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4 Things Elementary Families Should Know About the Buses

by Marc J. Smith

The following article is inspired by an email exchange I had with a parent last week.  Some of my colleagues suggested that the conversation I had with this particular parent would likely be beneficial to other families as well. 

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As educators, we sometimes make the mistake of forgetting that not everyone shares our understanding of the “inner workings” of a school system. The families of Sandwich have children located in a wide variety of places throughout the Sandwich Public Schools.  Some have their last child in their senior year of high school while others have 4 kids in the system with at least one at every level.  However, there is a group of families that are entering our system for the first time this year.  Either they are new to our town, or their oldest child is entering our kindergarten program. 

One of those areas that folks want to know about are the buses and our policies/procedures around transportation.  Below are the top 4 things families should know about how we operate our elementary school buses.

  1. General dismissal of the building is at 3:35.  At this time the students are brought to the buses by their teachers.  The buses have been leaving the school between 3:40-3:45 this first week of school.  Some of our buses have a high ridership, and several kindergarten students who are getting used to loading and unloading in an efficient manner, which is slows the route down a bit initially.  This will continue to improve as the students become more familiar with the routines and the drivers more familiar with the students.
  2. Just like substitute teachers in school, buses sometimes need substitute drivers.  It is not our practice to notify parents each time this occurs.  Additionally, the bus company does make decisions occasionally to replace drivers all together for personnel reasons.  New drivers or substitutes do not know the route as well as the original driver and delays are common when those changes occur.  Substitute drivers are usually unfamiliar with each roadway and stop on the route.  As a result he/she drives more cautiously to ensure he/she gets each child home safely.
  3. The Schools are here to work with you should any issues arise with the bus. The Assistant Principal at each school is the contact person regarding busing concerns/compliments.  Please feel free to reach out to your school’s Assistant Principal as the need arises.
  4. The bus rules on all the buses are kept simple for the students:
    1. Stay in your seat.
    2. Face forward.
    3. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
    4. Use an “inside voice.”

We do not allow kindergarten and first grade students to be unloaded if there is not a parent there to meet them as a district policy. In practice, our drivers do not release any students unless they either know the person at the stop, or have been given notice from the parent to release the child to a “new” adult.  If you were unable to make it to the stop for any reason, your child would be brought back to the school where he/she would be safe and we would work through the safety contact card in order to get in touch with you.