It’s going to be pretty quiet next month in the Blair home once little Kayde gets on the bus for school.
It’s always tough the first time you send your kids to school, says Mike Blair, a father of two in Sturgeon County. “The kids are growing up so much and so fast that you don’t realize it until it’s time.”
This will be the first year that both his kids, Kayde and Kenna, will be taking the bus, Blair says. “It’s going to be a quiet house.”
The kids, at least, were fired up about it, and eager to get on the bus for a trial run this week in Morinville.
St. Albert Public Schools is hosting its 10th annual First Rider’s Night this Tuesday. The free event is meant to teach first-time riders (and their parents) about bus safety.
Transportation manager Kris Salerno says he’s not sure who’s more nervous about the bus sometimes: the kids or the parents. (Squeezable stress-busses are available for both, he notes.)
For many parents, it’s the first time their kids will have left the home to go to school, says Sherri Davidson, transportation manager for the Sturgeon School Division.
“We want to assure them that we have a fabulous safety record and that their children are going to be as safe in our hands going to and from school as they would be in their own,” she said.
Sturgeon School Division held its first rider’s event Thursday in Morinville. About 100 kids and parents came out to learn about all the flashing lights and signs on a bus and where to stand so the drivers could see them.
About 90 per cent of the district’s students get rides or take the bus to school, Davidson says, so it’s important to make sure they know how to behave around a bus.
Buses in the county will turn on their flashing lights and deploy a stop sign when picking up or dropping off kids, she says. Drivers should be cautious when they see amber lights, and must not pass the bus when the stop sign is deployed.
“Most of the accidents happen when the kids are crossing,” she says, and they have close calls with cars every year.
Kids should always wait for the driver to tell them that the road is clear before they try to cross, and should always stay at least a metre away from the side of the bus (and several from the front and back) to avoid its blind spots.
“If you are a child and you can touch the bus, you are too close to it,” she said.
Buses aren’t allowed to use their flashers in the city, Salerno says, so here the process is a little different. Students are told not to cross the road until the bus has left the stop, and to make sure the road is clear before stepping out.
“Always remember the three P’s: point, pause and proceed,” he said.
Drivers should slow down if they see a bus pulled over with its right-hand turn signal on, he continues.
“If the bus is stopped, there are students getting on and off the bus.”
If you’re late for the bus, Davidson adds, don’t expect it to wait on you.
“Every bus has at least 20 stops on it,” she says, so even a one-minute wait at each stop quickly adds up. Get your kids to the bus stop at least five minutes ahead of time to make sure they’re nice and relaxed headed to school.
And make sure you have an emergency plan in place in case something goes wrong, Blair adds.
“If something happens on the bus, you need to know the numbers to call.”
The St. Albert First Rider’s Night is on Aug. 28 at Sir Alexander Mackenzie School. Sessions run at 4:30, 5, and 5:30 p.m. Call 780-460-3712 to register.