School Bus Safety and the Return to Normal

We’ve made it out of the health care crisis, more schools are back in session, and all of the disruptions to our routine will soon be out of the way in Ohio. To adjust to safety regulations, most school buses required drivers and passengers to wear masks, keep space between seats, and make more frequent, shorter trips as opposed to one long bus route.

Even though these regulations were disruptive, we adapted to these new routines, and will have to adjust to life without them as well. We’ve all been through enough change, but this time we’re prepared. Ensure a smooth transition and effective school bus safety culture for your kids as we move into the next phase with our tips and tricks below.

school bus safety kids crossing

Adjusting to New School Bus Schedules

As mentioned, one of the adjustments the school bus system implemented was taking shorter trips. Based CDC school bus guidance, those buses now follow routes that take 15 minutes at most to complete, down from as long as 45 minutes before the pandemic. All passengers must wear masks, and the maximum occupancy is half of what it used to be. This allowed for fewer children on the bus, more space in between each child, and less time spent in an enclosed area. Many children were able to get home earlier, or if their time slot was later, they were able to fill the extra wait time with homework or other habits. Just as quickly as we were forced to adjust to these new schedules, we’ll have to plan around them again.

If you haven’t already, invest in a family planner. If your child needs to adjust to having less extra time for homework or after school, pencil that time in. If your child was used to getting home earlier but now will have to sit through the whole bus ride before getting home, take this into consideration and don’t put pressure on your children to jump into activities or responsibilities as soon as they step off the school bus.

Managing stress during times of change is easier with acceptance and preparation. And happy children are always safer children. School bus safety starts with a healthy school-life balance in the home.

School buses

Drivers Must Implement School Bus Safety for Larger Groups of Students

While the restrictions had their difficulties, it can be easier to ensure school bus safety with smaller groups of children. Especially if your district supplies for all age groups k-12, conflicts can arise when children in various age groups are forced back into tight spaces together after a year of  increased isolation.

School bus drivers have to do several jobs at once while on the road, and one of the most important is maintaining a sense of authority and discipline among the young passengers on board. Keeping students on their best behavior is a major safety priority and can help contribute to safe driving as well. The question is, how

For many schools, the answer is to focus on positive behavior management techniques. Some states have even begun sponsoring cross-district seminars to help encourage school bus drivers to focus on positive reinforcement whenever possible.

#1 Be a source of positivity

Positivity should begin the moment students get on your school bus. Drivers should greet students as they board the bus in a cheerful manner, and try to cultivate a friendly and comfortable atmosphere onboard. Something as simple as a “Good morning!” or “Good afternoon!” can help brighten a student’s day, and encourage a culture of respect during your school bus route.

#2 Get to know your students

As a school bus driver taking kids to and from home every day, it’s likely you are going to spend at least as much time with those kids as any of their regular teachers – if not more. School bus drivers should take the opportunity to try to create positive relationships with he students. At the very least, drivers should know the names of all their regular students, and learn a little bit about them too. This opens the door to further positive communication and other interactions which will encourage good behavior and a school bus safety culture from the students.

#3 Establish Rules and Boundaries Early and Often

Positive behavioral management doesn’t mean a school bus without discipline. There is always room for bus drivers to set rules and boundaries, and they should be set clearly and early. A great example is a short speech at the start of every afternoon route. These boundaries should focus on the most important aspects of school bus safety, such as staying seated and not distracting the driver unnecessarily.

#4 Practice De-Escalation When Necessary 

If students aren’t exhibiting good behavior, the driver should first try to calmly and reasonably de-escalate the situation without resorting to threats, yelling, or other “authoritarian” discipline methods. Of course, there will be times when a bus driver needs to pull rank to keep everyone safe, but make sure this is the response used only when all other methods have failed. This is especially important if there’s bullying on the school bus.

#5 Know When and When Not to Intervene

Drivers should always pause to think before disciplining students, especially if they think there’s a chance it could cause the situation to escalate. Sometimes the best response to very minor acts of defiance or small breaches of the rules is no response at all. Some attempts at intervention will do more harm than good.

Creating a Culture of School Bus Safety | No Matter the Circumstances

The School Bus Safety Company provides training courses for school bus drivers for their students school bus safety. Our courses have a record of improving the behavior of drivers to avoid accidents and keep everyone on board safe. The courses are built around high-quality safety videos that can be taken online from anywhere. If you’re ready to welcome a culture of school bus safety on board, see the courses available at today.

School bus safety training videos
By Published On: May 17, 2021Categories: School Bus Driver Training

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