CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County Schools is making additional safety improvements to their buses to ensure students get home safely.
These changes come after a recent report of mistakes made by the school district. This happened first in 2020 when a student was dropped off at the wrong bus stop and again in 2022 when a student was dropped off without being picked up by a parent.
Following this, parents throughout Central Virginia have become more concerned about the safety of students traveling to and from school.
“Safety is my primary concern. I couldn’t imagine if my child, obviously she’s just 10 months right now, but should be starting preschool in a couple of years,” said mother Vanessa Clarkson. “You don’t know what could happen in a matter of minutes. Somebody … a stranger [could] come in, just pick up your kid and take him away. God forbid.”
The Regional Head Start office has requested the county install safety restraints and hire station bus monitors in all buses used for Head Start students. To make these requests possible, the county has asked for Head Start to fund these improvements with a one-time payment of $220,000. These funds will go towards the 200 safety seats for students and new bus monitor positions.
In other school districts, similar safety measures are already in place.
- “Henrico County Public Schools has assistants on all special education buses. We identify all Pre-K and K students with specific coded tags that parents and authorized individuals must match for students to be released to them. We also have an authorized pickup list in case they don’t have a corresponding tag. Students without authorized individuals to release them to are returned to school. We don’t leave them even if it’s the correct stop,” said spokesperson Eileen Cox.
- “Our buses that are solely dedicated to servicing pre-K have attendants assigned to them. This represents the vast majority of our pre-K students who are transported. For pre-K students whose transportation services are combined with special education students, those buses also have attendants. There are a handful of pre-K students who ride with general education students. While no attendants are on these buses, pre-K students are assigned to seats at the front of the bus so the driver can readily monitor them. Each of our bus drivers who service pre-K students is provided detailed information about each student and specifics on the student’s authorized custodians,” said spokesperson Chris Whitley.
- “We are fully staffed with bus monitors and are adding more for additional safety,” said spokesperson Matthew Stanley.