MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Remember that night before the first day of school? Most students have that obligatory uneasiness mixed with excitement with a tinge of insomnia.
Those uneasy feelings can be magnified among other firsts if your student has never rode the bus before.
We spoke with Madison County School Director of Public Relations and Communications Geraldine Tibbs and put together ‘first-time bus riding 101’ for students and parents new to taking the yellow dog.
Tibbs sums the need-to-know basics into 3 easy mantras to live by for bus riders and their parents: Be ready; Be patient & be flexible.
“They need to make sure they know the number of their school bus, know what time the bus will come to pick them up and make sure that they know where the bus will stop,” Tibbs advises.
The last thing any school wants is first-week confusion or a child winding up somewhere they don’t belong.
“Because there may have to be some changes. It may come at 6:30 for the first day and then depending upon what happens, change might have to happen,” explains Tibbs.
Barring any major accidents bus routes usually run no more than 10 minutes behind or ahead of schedule.
“The first week of school there are always some challenges and some changes that may need to happen.”
Tibbs says parents can reduce stress by making sure they stay on the ball when it come to passing along new information to their child, so there are no surprises.
It’s also a good idea to remind your child about behavior expectations and to be courteous to other riders while on the bus.
Geraldine Tibbs also encourages first-time riders to make friends with their new bus mates to help reduce anxiety.
In March the Madison County school board approved a staggered start/stop schedule effective for the 2014-2015 school year.
In the plan to alleviate bus overcrowding, a double bus route system will be put in place, cutting hour-long commutes in half and reducing the number of students on each bus ride.
All elementary schools will start at 7:45 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. each day. High schools and large middle schools — namely Buckhorn, Meridianville, Monrovia and Sparkman middle schools – will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. Parents will be allowed to drop off students 30 minutes prior to the beginning of school.
The district currently transports 12,000 students each day, representing 60 percent of the students attending Madison County schools. Each bus averages 60 students.