This morning I watched both of my children run out the front door towards the bus stop; both eager for their first day of school. My children spent most of the summer with me. Now, we will spend much of the day apart. The safety of my children is extremely important. Students learn best (and parents worry less) in a safe environment.
Children need to be aware of the proper conduct around a bus. Surprisingly, most children injured in bus accidents aren’t passengers; they’re pedestrians. To avoid this, children need to practice basic safety rules around buses. At the bus stop, stand a few feet away from the curb. Wait until the bus stops completely before attempting to board the bus. Keep seated while the bus is moving and don’t make any loud noises that might distract the driver. Arms and hands should never be put out of the windows. Upon leaving the bus, children should cross the street at least ten feet in front of the bus. Remind your child that riding a school bus is a privilege.
To assist in keeping children safe, most localities levy heavy fines for failure to abide by safety rules. In our locality (Gaithersburg, MD), drivers are required to stop at least 20 feet from a school bus with flashing red lights. Passing a bus with flashing lights will result in a fine in excess of $550 and 3 points.
If a child is walking to school, they should never cross the street between parked cars. Instead, tell them to cross the street in the designated areas (e.g. marked crosswalks) and look both ways prior to crossing. If there are no sidewalks, a child should face traffic, be alert, and walk on the left side.
If a child is riding a bike to school, they need to follow traffic rules (e.g. stop at a stop sign). In addition, they must wear a helmet; our locality requires children under the age of 18 to wear a helmet.
School crossing guards are typically posted at the busiest intersections and are empowered to stop traffic to allow students to cross the street safely. Parents and children need to follow the school crossing guard’s instructions.
Our school offers the convenient “kiss and ride” service. If you are unloading your child, do it onto a sidewalk and/or the right side of your vehicle. Parents should obey speed limits and street signs in a school zone. In our locality, police will assess 5 points and a fine up to $1,000 for speeding in a school zone.
In the classroom, following proper procedures keeps students safe. Our teachers discussed classroom policies the first day of school. In addition, my children were instructed to always walk quietly in the halls. In addition, safety rules were explained for the playground. Thankfully, our school prohibits contact sports at recess.
Students should recognize the fact that teachers are authority figures and are concerned for their well being. All of the rules are created to keep the school and every student safe. Let your child know that their compliance with the safety rules is important and make them a partner in the program. If every child obeys basic safety rules, the school will be a safe place to learn new things and to make new friends.
While we’re on the subject of back to school safety, this is a great time to remind your child about other general safety practices.
– Never talk to a stranger.
– Never answer the door without an adult present.
– Consider posting emergency contact numbers on your refrigerator or other
easily assessable area (e.g. parent’s cell phone numbers, grandparents or
other relative, or trusted local friend).
– Teach your child to call 911 when appropriate.