August 2011 - Eventful Magazine

August 2011 - Eventful Magazine

ack to school

School Bus


By Joan Corwin,

Owner of Chappaqua Transportation

So, your little one has turned 5 and is about

to start going to school. It is orientation day and

you are about to put your little one on a school

bus for the first time. Another milestone in the

life of your child!

I watched as mothers put their children on

the school bus for the first time and watched

as they remained on the sidewalk, waving hesitantly

at the little excited faces that were plastered

against the window. As the bus pulled

away from the curb, I walked up to a mother

and said, “Excuse me, would you mind telling

me what it feels like to ‘let go’ — to put your

child in the hands of a stranger?”

The mother choked up and said, “It isn’t easy.

This is my first one going into kindergarten.

I don’t know anything about the bus driver.”

Parents, rest assured. Whether your child is on

a school district bus or a contractor’s bus, the

rules are all the same. Our operations are all

overseen by our school districts, the state education

department, the Department of Motor

Vehicles, and the federal and state departments

of transportation. School bus drivers and the

school buses meet very strict standards.

School bus safety has to be a team effort. It is

like the gears in a clock that are ticking. If the

gears don’t all work together, the clock will stop.

You (mom and dad) are part of our school bus

safety team and make a difference in the safe

transportation of your children.


Please give your child enough time in the

morning so that he or she does not have to

rush. Don’t expect your child to eat breakfast

on the way to school. (There’s no eating on

the school bus because a child hurrying to eat

might choke.)

Be sure your child’s shoelaces are securely

tied. (We once had a child running to the bus

and she fell on the steps because her shoe fell


Pack your child’s belongings securely in a

backpack, as recommended by the state education

department. Make sure the backpack is

clearly labeled and it doesn’t have any dangling

straps or key chains that can get caught on the

hand rail of a bus.

In picking out your child’s clothes, stay away

from yellow raincoats or outfits because they

blend in with the school bus yellow, compromising

your child’s visibility to the bus driver.


You are responsible for the safety of your

child until he or she boards the bus. Avoid distractions,

like cell phones.

Don’t start you child’s day off rushing to the

bus stop. Be at the stop five minutes ahead of


If you have younger children at the bus stop

with you, be sure to hold the child’s hand firmly.

Letting the little ones play at the bus stop is a


If you are late and miss the bus, please do not

chase the bus in your car. We have had parents

pull up behind a bus at its next stop, blowing

the horn to wait, and tell the student to “get

out of the car and run up and get on the bus.”

You should be aware that the bus driver is trying

to check six mirrors, oncoming traffic, students

boarding the bus, as well as the children

already on the bus. The driver does not always

hear someone blowing the horn from behind.

And even with all the mirrors, there is still a

blind spot. If your child was in the blind spot,

the driver would not see him or her.

Refrain from unnecessary horseplay at the

bus stop. Please monitor your child so it does

not carry over onto the bus.

Many of us consider our pets as part of our

families. If you bring them to the bus stop each

morning, please be sure it is on a leash and controlled.

A bus driver once pulled up to a bus

stop, opened the door, and a dog jumped up on

the driver’s lap, licking her face. An oncoming

car stopped because of the school bus’ red lights

and started to blow her horn. The driver of the

car leaned out her window and screamed at the

bus driver, “Don’t you know it is unsafe to drive

a school bus with a dog sitting in your lap?”

Wait at least 15 feet back from the roadway

while waiting for the bus. Roads may be slippery

and vehicles might slide or not be able to

stop. In inclement weather, don’t let children

climb on snow banks where they could slip.


Be aware of your school district’s policy about

dropping off children without an adult present.

Prior to the start of school, talk with your

child about an emergency plan. Is there someone

else who can get your child at the bus stop

if you or your babysitter doesn’t show up? Children

are devastated when the school bus driver

has to take them back to school. We try to avoid


Encourage your child to put everything in his

or her backpack before leaving the classroom in

the afternoon. It makes it easier for the child

to board the bus and it reduces the number of

items left on the bus.

Parents should wait on the side of the road

that the child will exit the bus from, not on the

other side of the road. The little ones have a tendency

to focus on the parent or caregiver and

will not pay attention to the bus driver, who is

responsible for giving the child a signal that it

is safe to cross.

A parent crossing in front of the bus with a

child should follow the 10-foot rule and wait

for the bus driver’s signal. Parents need to reinforce

the bus safety rules.

It is up to you as a parent to be responsible

for your child getting to and from the bus stop

safely. If you have any questions or concerns,

please call your district’s transportation department.

These tips may seem overwhelming, but they

are well worth taking the time to follow. I have

seen far too many accidents and death and urge

all parents to help in the team effort to keep

your kids safe on the school bus.

12 Eventful Magazine - August 2011

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