By: Morgan Sexton
School buses hitting the roads is a sure sign of the back-to-school season. Bus drivers are often the first and last person a student sees during their school day, making them an important part of each child’s school experience.
“Our buses travel over 2,700 miles a day, said Transportation Director Don Neal. “We have an excellent transportation safety record,” he added.
To make sure this record is maintained, all Wayne County bus drivers and bus monitors participated in a state-mandated safety and procedure update on August 6. Drivers practiced proper bus evacuation methods and brushed up on their first aid skills. Health Coordinator Patty Burton also taught a course on blood-borne pathogens during the update.
Transportation training facilitator Johnny Young also emphasized the impact a bus driver can have on a student. He told the drivers, “Sometimes just acknowledging that you know a child is there can encourage that child. It can make a difference in how their day goes.”
The buses will be taking their usual routes this year with only a few minor changes. The Wayne County Schools Transportation Department noted that buses will be running a little slower at the beginning of the school year. Motorists should be prepared to stop while students get on and off the buses, not just in the morning and afternoon, but also during midday.
Transportation safety is a priority for Wayne County Schools. Schools often try to emphasize safety during the school day. All students must participate in a bus evacuation drill four times a year, regardless of how often they ride. In addition, Wayne County High School held an assembly this past school year to warn students against driving while distracted or intoxicated. The speaker, Blake McMeans, and his story of surviving a drunk driving crash made an impression on the student body.
The tradition of safety in transportation comes in part from a team of experienced drivers, according to Neal. “We have a lot of drivers who have years of experience. It’s good because they have a relationship with the kids,” he said.
Take Darrell Simpson, for example. Simpson has been driving the same route for 30 years. He is now driving the children of students he drove at the beginning of his career.
Bus drivers are just one moving part of the school day, but they have a big responsibility. With the help of local motorists, “we hope to have another safe year, just like last year,” Neal concluded.
Bus Driver Mike Cooksey gets a bus ready to hit the streets before school begins
Ashley Eller asks a question during the training update
Left to right: Jason Kennett, Dwayne Gardner, and Alan Doss enjoyed a cup of coffee during a break in the training
Monticello Elementary school nurse Lindsey Jones Sexton (right) observes bus monitor Joetta Davis (left) as she practices her first aid skills
Ronnie Turner (left) and Tim Pyles (right) discuss what they learned during the opening assembly of the training
Tonya Parnell assessed Patsy Sexton's first aid skills