I have been a bus driver since October 2006. I know the inside story, the scoop, the down low dirt of what it takes to be a bus driver, how to handle kids and adults, and how to survive on the "streets" so to speak. I have a blog, feel free to browse it or ask me a question here.
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Good question Haleigh!
That is really a question that is only answered depending on the district your school is in. Typically speaking though, if the bus services the school, then yes, we normally let children ride in the mornings. We know that sometimes kids end up staying with grandma, or over at a friends house, and usually try to accommodate that situation. If the bus has to go out of district to deliver you to school, then we do have a right to refuse bus service for that reason. Often if a bus driver is faced with an unknown face at a bus stop, either the child has a note written by a parent to present to the bus driver, or the bus driver will radio the bus shop to get clearance. Most of the time we are able to help you out.
Technically speaking, it is dangerous to brake check any vehicle because it will cause wear and tear on the vehicle. In addition, brake checking while one has children on board can put them in danger and cause unintended injuries. Sometimes I will demonstrate to children how fast a bus CAN stop because it helps them remember to stay in their seats, but over all I don't usually perform "brake checks".
On a legal standpoint, it is NOT illegal to do so, just unsafe.
It varies from state to state, but in my district, the cameras are designed to keep running approximately 10 minutes after the bus has been turned off. This is for safety reasons for the driver and for the kids. It also provides enough time for the bus driver to walk the bus/sweep the bus at the end of the route. This also is proof that the driver is doing their job by walking the bus and prevents the driver from getting in a compromising situation should a student be found on the bus after the route and the bus has been shut off.
If the bus is 30 feet from the intersection, then yes, you can continue travelling on the perpendicular road, however if the bus is closer than that and is clearly letting kids disembark from the bus, its better to be safe and stop than sorry because you ran over a child and were not looking. Children are unpredictable and at any point can go a direction one least expects, including darting back across the street to the bus for a forgotten item.
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I can't say for sure the reason why the driver did not detour, however, maybe she was unfamiliar with the area, or perhaps she had been told not to deviate from the route. Sometimes there is no space for a bus to turn and detour and sometimes the detour areas only accommodate cars, and not buses.
This is a good question, and definitely one I will probably co-post on my blog. Things I recommend for bus drivers to have on hand:
Kleenex - You can never have too many Kleenex. Kids are always asking for a tissue.
Paper towels - Not to be confused with Kleenex, paper towels are always handy for cleaning up spills and other larger messes such as when rain comes in the leaky roof of a bus.
Hand sanitizer - more for yourself than the kids, but some drivers keep it handy for the kids as well.
Baby wipes - If you prefer baby wipes to hand sanitizer, these can serve double duty as cleansing items for the seats and surrounding areas.
Cleaning supplies - most bus barns will provide cleaning supplies for a driver to maintain general cleanliness of their bus. This includes windex, lysol, and other antibacterial agents for cleaning the bus.
Puke powder - yes the name sounds awful but it is essential for that child that you will eventually have that vomits everywhere.
Trashcans and trash bags - again self explanatory, but if you promote a clean bus, most of the trash the children will make will find its way into the can.
Broom - A strong and sturdy broom to reach those hard to get areas, brooms also aid in killing random bugs and other pests that find their way into your bus.
Log book/folder - Your bus barn is going to ask you to handle paperwork, it is handy to have a folder to use to keep all paperwork in. It also helps to keep a current copy of your CPR certification on hand.
Bus roster - This is majorly important if you are in an accident or if a child needs to contact their parents for whatever reason. You need to know who is on your bus at any given time. This goes for bus passes too - I usually keep those for about 2 weeks, then toss them. Things in a bus roster should include the following: Name of the student, Grade/School, Address, Emergency and Parent numbers, and any allergies or special conditions one should be aware about. Your bus barn should provide a form for children and parents to fill out and return to you.
Route description - make sure a route description is handy on your bus for those inevitable days that you are going to be sick. A route description is a lifesaver for sub drivers who do not know your kids. Also, make sure a roster is attached to each route description so that the sub driver can have it available immediately in the case of an emergency.
Bus seating chart - It may be a good idea for you to assign your passengers seats. The seat assignments are also helpful for identifying problem passengers.
Clearly posted rules - these can help students realize what rules they are supposed to follow on the bus. I recommend going over the rules with each group of kids that enter your bus.
Citation/write-up folder - make sure you have a folder full of blank citation/write-up sheets. Explain to students that if they do not follow the rules they are going to get a verbal warning from you, you will talk to their parents, and then if they persist, you will write them up and turn them into the school. Explain that there are consequences for receiving a write-up such as a change in assigned seat to one of the front seats (or a least desireable location). I know of one bus driver that had all of her children sitting up front and left the back of the bus as no-mans-land. There were at least 6 seats between the last group of students and the very back of the bus. A misbehaving child was sent to sit in the last seat by himself, which wasn't viewed as a reward as there was noone around him to help him disobey.
Offer little treats and incentives - Maybe you could develop a positive behavior system on your bus. Some bus drivers use gum as an incentive, or lollypops. If the children behave (for the most part) all week, they get a treat on Fridays. You may want to have them work towards a pizza party or an icecream treat. When I drove for an after school program, I brought things like cupcakes, and on the last day of after school, I brought ice pops since it was so hot out. The kids will appreciate these little treats.
For bathroom emergencies, it can be a tricky situation. In my district, it is left up to the bus driver's discretion. Usually if a route is short - the kids will be home within 1 hour - I usually tell the children to wait until they get home. Though there have been times where a route is longer, or the child is little (pre-k) in which case I'll stop at the bus shop, or at a school and get a teacher or older student (of same gender of child) to escort the child to the bathroom.
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