Bus drivers prepare for all situations
Roughly 400 bus drivers from 40 school districts from around the state participated in a bus driver professional development day Friday outside Peterson Auditorium in Ludington.
The number of bus drivers represented a wide range of school districts from across the state, said Katrina Morris, the transportation supervisor for the West Shore Educational Service District.
“We’ve got drivers from (Maple City) Glen Lake, Zeeland, Bay-Arenac (Intermediate School District) and Romeo,” Morris said.
In its fifth year, part of the reason why the program has expanded from 50 drivers to 400 is because of the range and depth at which the traning happens.
“I think nobody is doing as big of a thing as this. They may do some training individually. Here, they get to meet others and collaborate with other districts,” she said.
The training was free to the participants thanks to the Northwest Michigan Transportation Consortium.
When it began five years ago, the training dealt with a couple of areas such as if a bus overturns. With so many drivers for so many districts, Morris said there were workshops in many areas including when a there might be a lot of smoke on a bus or an active shooter.
“Everything they’re doing relates to what they’ll possibly see, and it’s all for the safety of the kids,” she said.
The timing for the training couldn’t have been at a better time. School begins for most districts state-wide on Tuesday, Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day. That’s less than three weeks away.
“I think it’s critical. Doing it now gets everyone going, and they’re at their best on the road,” she said. “They care about the kids. This is so important.”
Seeing buses out and about, too, helps people be reminded that school is almost back in session.
School bus drivers, though, don’t only work as school gets underway in the mornings and afternoons, Morris said. They’re being called upon for more than taking clubs and teams to events, too. They’re working with any potential disaster relief such as flooding.
Morris was helped out by several volunteers Friday. Members of the Ludington police and fire departments, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan State Police volunteered their time and assistence with the program. Mason County Emergency Management Coordinator Liz Reimink and her office was also on hand to help, too.