Bus Safety for Students with Special Needs
● By Digital Media Director
By: Sioux Falls School District
For many students, getting to school safely each morning is probably one of the easiest parts of their day: they likely don’t even think about it. It’s automatic, like brushing their teeth or tying their shoes. Whether they walk, bike, take a car or ride the bus, it’s just something that usually seems to happen on its own.
But for students with special needs, especially those who are riding the bus for the first time, the experience can be daunting or even frightening. For their parents, it can be downright terrifying.
“The key, for all our bus drivers, is getting to know our students,” says Kevin Hansen, School Bus Inc.’s Safety Director. “For students with special needs, this is especially important. So we work closely with schools and families to ensure the trip is safe, comfortable and not too long for students who need regular care.”
School districts like Sioux Falls transport thousands of students each day. Every driver undergoes rigorous training before they ever transport students, including the use of lifts, seatbelts and other safety equipment, first aid training, and what to do in the event of a collision. Drivers are in constant contact with headquarters via radio systems that work even if electricity or cell phone towers are down, and thereby have easy access to emergency responders if necessary. Education assistants and other personnel are also available on buses where additional hands or eyes are needed.
“Safety is our highest priority,” Hansen says. “Best practices and common sense tell us that open communication with families and the educational experts who work with individual students will help us get kids to school and back home every day. Our goal is that the bus ride is automatic for every student – one less thing for parents and students to have to worry about.”