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RVS changes bus ride protocol for students

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 11:28 am

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Rocky View Schools (RVS) is making changes to the way students are transported to and from school in response to the 2012/2013 RVS Satisfaction Survey, which suggested some students have concerns about riding the bus.

RVS Director of Transportation Audrey Bloxham was on hand at the Feb. 6, board of trustees meeting to explain the changes.

“We’ve taken on three initiatives in response to low scores mostly on the question, ‘students on my bus show respect for each other,’” Bloxham said.

The first initiative provided bus drivers with additional training to help manage and prevent behaviour issues on the bus.

A workshop was held for bus drivers, which included a presentation from RVS’ Lead Psychologist Chris Pawluk on the power of relationships in shaping school bus climate and preventing behavioural issues.

“The bus drivers got some hints and clues on how they can better bond with students,” Bloxham said, adding unlike teachers, bus drivers have a very limited amount of time with the kids to create a relationship.

She said Pawluk taught the drivers simple ways to make a connection with the children such as saying hello and getting to know who the kids are, thus making students feel more comfortable.

The hope is the students will feel more at ease and be willing to share with the driver if a problem develops on the bus.

“The seminar was really well received,” she said of the feedback from drivers.

An area of concern identified in the spring, when a group of school administrators and bus drivers participated in discussions with RVS, was that the kindergarten to Grade 4 students often had concerns connected to the bus ride. Students indicated concern over getting on the wrong bus, getting off at the wrong stop, and concerns that “the older students are not nice and the bus driver yells.”

To address these concerns Bloxham explained the changes RVS has made to the transportation system and how drivers manage younger students will reduce the uncertainties for younger students.

“We’ve done two things,” she said. “We only allow our younger students to ride the bus they’ve been assigned to…. The second part of that initiative is we require bus drivers to keep seats free at the front of the bus for younger students.”

By allowing younger students only on their assigned buses, it is hoped there will be less anxiety surrounding getting on the wrong bus and getting off at the wrong stop.

She said reserving seats for younger students will eliminate some of the fears associated with having to find a seat among older students. The younger students have a different colour bus pass so the driver can recognize that they can sit in those seats.

“Parents have supported it quite well,” Bloxham said of the initiative.

The third initiative is in the beginning stages and focus groups comprised of students and administrators are being formed to help identify additional problems that may exist and to identify possible solutions.

“At the end of it we’ll have a whole lot of information,” Bloxham said.

Trustee Sylvia Eggerer said she thought the initiatives were “awesome” and pointed out the survey did not indicate a large-scale issue on buses but was glad to see the action was taken.

“We do take these results very seriously,” Eggerer said.

Forty-eight per cent of respondents indicated they disagreed with the question “students on my bus show respect for each other” and 52 per cent indicated they agreed with the statement.

“You’ve listened to the kids and really heard what they said,” Trustee Bev LePeare told Bloxham and added she is looking forward to the next RVS Satisfaction Survey to see how it is impacted by the initiatives.


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