To put everyone’s mind at ease, my son was okay. I read an article by Lee Hansen today concerning alarms being put on buses with a key lock, to verify the driver checks for students before leaving the bus. This is a good idea, especially for rural routes. Here is my story.
My son was a second-grader at the new, state-of-the-art school in the area. All of the students were excited about being in a brand-new school. The bus schedule had been worked out carefully. He was the first student on in the morning, as we were furthest from school, and the last student off in the evening. The bus driver drove the bus home from there, as he was an hour or so up the hill.
As a teacher, I made it a priority to meet my students’ parents. As a parent, I made it a priority to meet the school staff who would be dealing with my son on a daily basis, including the bus driver. It was a comfort to realize they were all as dedicated as I was to providing a safe learning environment. It was a total shock, therefore, to arrive home from work a few minutes before the bus was due and not see it stop to let him off.
I waited fifteen more minutes; then called the school. “Perhaps he’s just a bit late,” said the secretary. “I will call the stop before yours and see if those children are home yet.” A few minutes later, I answered the phone to hear that the other students were home. The radio on the bus was out of range, but she would call the driver when he got home, in another twenty minutes or so. While waiting, I called his friends’ parents, to see if perhaps he had gotten off at their stop to play. The answers were negative.
After what seemed like forever, the secretary called back. The driver had confirmed he did not get off the bus at our stop, though he remembered calling out his name because the stop was coming up, and had gotten no response. The driver was going out to the bus to check it once more. By that time, it was dark and I was scared. Even in rural areas, there are nut cases. I called my mom, who advised me to keep positive thoughts and pray. I was aware he was in God’s hands and not lost to Him, but he was lost to me and it was frightening. It really wasn’t forever, though it seemed that way, before she called again. I sat down, biting my lip, to get the news.
“He’s okay,” I heard. “He was curled up on one of the seats in the back, under a couple of jackets, sound asleep. Since it’s dark, can he spend the night with the family? The driver will come by a bit early so you can give him a hug and ask him to sit up towards the front of the bus, in case he falls asleep again sometime on the way home.”
My son had a great adventure, I got to call around and let everyone know he was okay, and the school started giving a copy of the list to the driver, so he or she could check off the children’s names when they got off the bus. I commend Raytown for taking the cautionary step ahead; it is a sign of their concern for students, parents, and staff.
Lee Hansen, ‘Raytown Schools in Missouri Have Come Up with an Alarming Idea’