VERMILLION, S.D. — A school district here recently implemented a new patrol program to enhance student safety in and around the school bus.
Vermillion School District joined the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) School Safety Patrol program to make its students more aware of school bus safety guidelines, Jon Cole, the resource officer for Vermillion Middle School, told School Bus Fleet.
The AAA School Safety Patrol program is designed to enlist the help of students (with their parents' permission) as volunteer patrol officers, according to Cole.
“Students act as assistants to the bus driver and help remind students of proper bus safety and rules, along with reporting any incidents that may occur to the bus driver or school administration,” he said. “They can also assist with younger children crossing the street safely or helping kids off the bus during an emergency evacuation.”
Students are selected to participate in the program based on a variety of factors, such as their interests, behavior, academic achievement, and attitude toward others, Cole added. He also said that currently only the district’s seventh and eighth grade students are chosen to participate in the program because they are more likely to ride on the school bus than the district’s high school students who tend to drive or carpool with friends to school.
The AAA School Safety Patrol program was started in 1920 to provide a safer pedestrian environment and a variety of educational opportunities for students, according to the program’s website. The agency sponsors the entire initiative and provides all of the necessary equipment, including a safety patrol belt and badge for the student officers.
“As a school we are constantly looking for ways to promote safe travel,” said Damon Alvey, the superintendent for Vermillion School District. “Having extra eyes and ears on the bus promoting safe sitting and reducing distractions for the driver, are important. If our riders have a better experience on the bus because we have student patrol members helping, we are glad. The patrol members are providing a service to others and promoting safe travel.”
At this time, Cole said the AAA School Safety Patrol program has received positive feedback from the district’s school bus drivers and the school board. Alvey added that the district will continue to monitor the program and evaluate its success as the year progresses.