Students Practice Bus Safety Drills

Jennifer Gardner


Shortly after Bus 57 pulled into Skoi-Yase Primary School on Tuesday morning, driver Jennifer Gardner stood in front of its 21 passengers to discuss safety procedures.

Gardner, who has been a driver in the Waterloo Central School District for 21 years, pointed out the location of emergency exits, outlined proper use of seatbelts, discussed the correct procedure for exiting the bus and crossing the road and demonstrated steps that should be taken in case the bus driver became disabled. Students also participated in a practice evacuation.

“They did really well today,” Gardner said.

Bus safety drills were conducted throughout the District and are required by the New York State Education Department three times per year. They also support the District’s priorities of creating a safe space for all and utilizing teamwork.

WCSD Transportation Director D’Allah “D” Laffoon said safety training is a priority for drivers and students every day.

“It’s about instincts and repetition,” Laffoon said. “The idea is that if something were to happen, that the students would know what to do and instincts and repetition would kick in.”

Tuesday’s session was review for some of the older students on Gardner’s route. Younger students experienced the drills for the first time.

Gardner used a calm voice as she explained how to “pull the yellow button” and stop the bus in an emergency. She also used positive reinforcement as she quizzed students on other safety procedures.

Laffoon said the relationship that bus drivers and monitors have with their students is key to a successful drill.

 “The input that they have for safety, logistics and everything else is worth its weight in gold,” he said.

Gardner is aware of the many responsibilities that come with her job and enjoys the interactions with her passengers and their families each day.

 “The best part is the kids and the relationships that you build with them,” Gardner said. “Plus, every day is different. Even though we drive the same bus with the same kids on the same route, no two days are the same.”