The Vermillion School Board learned at its Nov. 11 meeting of a new program that’s begun in the school district to make students’ bus rides safer and more orderly.

“Due to some uprising in some behavioral issues on school buses … we’ve implemented a new school safety bus patrol program for the 2019-2020 school year,” said Jon Cole, an officer with the Vermillion Police Department who also serves as a resource officer at Vermillion Middle School.

He said the program has been introduced under the direction of himself, Superintendent Damon Alvey and Middle School Principal Tom O’Boyle. There currently are about a dozen seventh and eighth grade students serving as members of a bus patrol to bring greater order and remind fellow students of safety rules while school bus passengers.

“The program is sponsored by the American Automobile Association so all of the equipment that is needed is sponsored by and funded by AAA,” Cole said. “Students who participate in the program would act as advisors and assistants to the school bus driver and the school administration.

“Students who ride the bus as normal on their normal bus route remind students of proper bus safety and rules along with reporting any needs to the bus driver or the school administration,” Cole said. “He will also sit with younger children getting on and off the bus and at bus stops.”

Students participating as members of the AAA School Safety Patrol will wear a safety sash and badge while riding the school bus or at the bus stops so they are easily visible and identified, he said.

“In their role of encouraging students to observe safety rules, safety patrol members can be a significant positive influence on their schoolmates and patrol can influence students both formally as part of their regular duties as well as informally because they serve as student role models of appropriate and safe behavior,” Cole said. “In addition, patrols can read valuable safety information to students in the classroom.”

The AAA School Safety Patrol Program was started in 1920. According to AAA information, the presence of an AAA School Safety Patrol wearing the familiar belt & badge is a nationally recognized symbol alerting motorists to drive carefully, for school children are in the area. More than 654,000 children throughout the country participate in the program.

In 2020, the AAA School Safety Patrol will celebrate its 100th Anniversary. As a peer to peer leadership development program, Safety Patrols are trained to recognize traffic safety and other hazards to assist in keeping fellow classmates safe on their journeys to and from school.

Rules for students to follow at the bus stop include:

• Arrive at the bus stop five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.

• Remain orderly and pay attention to traffic—this is no place to play.

• Obey the School Safety Patrol, Crossing Guard, Officer, or adult.

• Stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the edge of the road.

Entering and Exiting the Bus:

• Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay before stepping onto or off the bus.

• Be careful that clothing and book bags do not get caught in doors or between students.

• If you must cross the road to enter or after exiting the bus, walk in front of the bus. Never walk behind the bus.

• Stop at the edge of the bus and look left-right before crossing.

• Walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead.

• Be sure the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.

• Tell the bus driver if you drop something beside the bus. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

• Be alert to all traffic.

On the Bus:

• Take your seat immediately.

• Always sit fully in the seat and face forward.

• Obey the bus driver, School Safety Patrol, or adults on the bus.

• DO NOT distract the bus driver.

• Never stand on a moving bus.

• Keep aisles clear at all times.

• Speak in low voices.

• Never stick anything out of the window—arms, legs, head, book bags, etc.

“Patrols selected are from a group of eighth grade students and from seventh grade students. Patrols are selected with input from the teachers, administrators, school resource officers and bus drivers,” Cole said. “I just wanted to inform you guys that the program will be started up and our goal is to obviously reduce the amount of issues that are happening on the school buses and also to help provide the bus drivers with more ability to keep their eyes on the road instead of in the rear, looking at all of the kids in the mirror.

“We select seventh and eighth graders predominately (for the patrol) because most of the high schoolers are either driving themselves, riding with friends or walking,” he said. “The older children on the bus are typically seventh and eighth graders.”

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