Thousands of children take the school bus every day here in Central Oregon. But what happens if a child misses their stop? The Bend La-Pine School District says it has several policies in place for just that reason to make sure kids get home safe.
That scenario happened this week to a six-year-old kindergartener in Bend.
Kathleen Young was waiting for her son, J.J. to be dropped off at his bus stop Monday afternoon. But he didn’t arrive.
“At first, we didn’t know that he had stayed on the bus. It was a really big concern. ‘What bus did he get on? Where is he? Did he leave the school? Did he get off on another stop?’ That not knowing is kind of gut-wrenching for a mom,” Young said. “I called the bus barn and they said ‘Yeah, we’ve got three kids missing right now. Yours in one of them, so please hang tight while we call the buses and try to figure out where your kid is.”
Director of Transportation for Bend-La Pine Schools Kim Crabtree says it’s not uncommon for some kids to miss their stops at the beginning of the school year. The district wants you to know your children are safe if you ever find yourself in the same situation.
“Every driver is supposed to check their bus at the end of their route. They walk the bus after every route and then at the end of the day they walk it again when they come back our yard and hang a sign saying ‘My bus is empty.’ We have a staff member drive around the lot checking that everyone of those signs are down,” Crabtree said.
Based on where J.J. lives and where he goes to school, he has to transfer to another bus mid-route. J.J. was supposed to transfer buses at the the Bend-La Pine Transportation Center, but stayed on board.
Crabtree says drivers were not required to check their buses at the transfer point before continuing their route, but that is now going to change.
“Sometimes when these trans-buses are coming in, not every student gets off the bus. They still have a bus load of kids that are going with them to their second destination. This is just an added safety measure so we can catch those kids earlier,” Crabtree said.
Crabtree recommends parents go here for any updates and information on bus routes.
Bend-La Pine Schools recommend parents get a Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) card for their children. Children can scan the card when they board the bus, sending a text to parents to notify them of their child’s location.
Parents can also download the MyStop app. The district says not only will it display the RFID information, it also lets you know where the bus is at and whether it’s running on time.