SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A school district here is making changes to its drop-off practices after two mishaps while transporting students to and from a summer program, News-Leader reports.

During a significant expansion of Springfield Public Schools’ summer program, classes were offered at more schools and the program doubled to eight weeks, according to the news source. However, Rick Emling, the director of transportation for the district, told News-Leader that in the days before and after the Fourth of July holiday, ridership dropped by almost half. In response, bus drivers drove abbreviated routes because they were loading students quicker at the school and finishing their routes faster, Emling added.

That led to a bus driver dropping off a 5-year-old student at a stop almost 20 minutes earlier than scheduled. Her parents were unaware of the change, so the girl waited at the stop alone, according to the news source. Emling told New-Leader that this situation never occurs during the regular school year. Additionally, at the start of the first summer session, another 5-year-old student’s drop-off stop assignment was changed to one that was closer to their home. The district manually changed the stop in the system, but the routing system was reset for the second session, and a new driver took over the route. The child was dropped off at the original stop instead of the new one.

As a result, bus drivers have been instructed to "slow down and be patient" and maintain stop times, district officials notified each school leader to not release students and school buses earlier than expected, and transportation employees who set the routes are looking at how to build in safeguards so changes are saved in the system between the first and second summer sessions, Emling told News-Leader.

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