School starts this week, with the Tupelo Public School District holding its first classes on Monday and Lee County Schools opening on Wednesday.
That means those yellow school buses will once again return to a road near you, ferrying students to and from school. In anticipation, Daily Journal education reporter Chris Kieffer spoke with TPSD transportation director Lee Stratton about school bus safety for students and motorists.
Q: What can parents tell their kids to help improve school bus safety?
A: Parents can help by encouraging their student to follow their bus driver’s instructions. Our basic five rules for the bus are: 1. Be seated 2. Be quiet. 3. Keep hands/feet to yourself. 4. Electronic devices cannot be seen or heard. 5. No food or drinks. Also, students should be reminded to keep a safe distance between the student, the bus and traffic while waiting for the arrival of the bus.
Q: What tips do you have for motorists now that school buses will be returning to roadways?
A: Motorists should be mindful of frequent bus stops and remember it is against the law to pass a stopped school bus. Motorists are encouraged to be patient during morning and afternoon bus routes, especially during the first few weeks of school.
Q: How much safety training do bus drivers receive and what sort of things are emphasized?
A: All bus drivers must be certified by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Mississippi Department of Education, which includes yearly re-certification classes. The Tupelo Public School Transportation Department recently held a training session for bus drivers and monitors which focused on bus safety, medical emergencies and district procedures.