During this winter, which brought exceptionally frigid conditions to much of the country, it was very unsettling to see multiple reports of children being left on school buses.
We’ve covered this topic many times, but it seems that now is a good time to bring it back into the spotlight. Here, we’ve gathered details on five incidents that occurred across the nation during the winter months.
While each of these occurrences involved children being stranded on a school bus, there are unusual — and in some cases even shocking — details in the different stories that are worth reviewing.
1. In Lee’s Summit, Mo., two staff members at a state school were dismissed after a disabled 19-year-old student was left on a school bus on Jan. 10. Officials said that the bus driver and an aide left the nonverbal student in her wheelchair on the bus during the school day and found her on the bus at the end of the day.
2. In Fargo, N.D., two students were left unattended on a school bus on the morning of Jan. 2 after the driver failed to check the vehicle, according to the Park Rapids Enterprise. A school district official told the newspaper that the driver left the bus running in the bus company’s yard.
As the driver exited the bus, another driver saw a child looking out a window and reported it. That child was taken off the bus and transported to school. The second child was discovered in a later search on the same bus. The district official told the newspaper that a student-check reminder system on the bus didn’t engage because the bus was still running.
3. In Algona, Iowa, a 4-year-old was left stranded on a school bus for several hours on Dec. 19, according to the Globe Gazette. The school district’s transportation director, who was driving the bus, was expected to resign.
4. In Dinwiddie County, Va., WRIC reported that a 5-year-old was left on his bus on Jan. 13 and was later found wandering along a road.
5. In Franklin, N.J., the Home News Tribune reported that a 3-year-old was left on his bus for nearly six hours in frigid temperatures on Jan. 28. A bus company manager told the newspaper that the driver walked around the outside of the bus to the back door, opening and closing it to disarm the reminder system.
There is a variety of electronic and manual systems available to prompt drivers to check their buses for children. However, that last occurrence reinforces the point that drivers should still be continually reminded of the importance of the post-trip check — and it’s up to them to actually do it.
While most school bus drivers are very conscientious and wouldn’t deliberately neglect this vital duty, everyone can benefit from a reminder of what’s at stake if they don’t check the bus for children every time.
Just think about what happened to the 4-year-old boy, Logan, in the Algona, Iowa, incident. While the outcome could have been worse, the description of his condition, as reported in the Globe Gazette, is heartbreaking nonetheless:
“Logan, who was reportedly wet and cold when discovered, was taken to his classroom, where his teacher helped him change clothes and get lunch. He had not eaten breakfast or lunch.”