ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Many parents are getting ready to put their child back on the school bus, but some have already started.
The head of transportation for Rockford Public Schools said that safety is important when a child is both on and off the bus. A bus driver must be able to stay aware of what is going on in the bus, as well as the surrounding areas. They are not just worried about themselves, but also those around them.
The travel from home to school will be a daily routine, so it is important that kids feel comfortable and safe.
“So, we want to make sure we always do our safety checks,” said Rodriquez George, safety transportation officer at Rockford Public School District (RPS) 205. “So, we start in the morning with what we call a pre-trip inspection, make sure all the bells and whistles are good, and at the end of the day we do a post trip.”
These are all in place to make sure that the ride is safe, as well as keep all students accounted for. In order to turn off the bus at the end of the day, drivers must press a button at the back of the bus, which says that they checked the seats for any left behind children.
All RPS elementary school students take a bus safety class, which is vital when the bus driver is in charge of so many kids while trying to drive.
“Unfortunately, things happened on the bus; there could be fights, somebody could have a medical emergency, so you have to pay attention,” George said. “But, just glance at your mirror, rearview mirror. It shows you everything, and then get your eyes quickly back on the road.”
Children must be at least 10-feet away from the bus and the arm when it opens. They should make sure to listen to the driver on when to approach, as they have better vision from where they are.
Residents who are driving behind a bus heading towards train tracks, they should be prepared to stop. It is required for all school vehicles.
Bus drivers take pride in being the first face that children see when they start their day.
“So, we think about the thing about police and what they do, and we think about firefighters and soldiers and we appreciate everything they do, but being a bus driver is just as noble, because when you think about transporting the most precious cargo in the nation to and from safely and getting to know them and building relationships and making their day better, it’s just a noble job,” George said.
There is currently a nationwide bus driver shortage, and RPS 205 is no exception. Those interested in applying can learn more on the RPS website.