1. The bus didn't show up on time for my child. How long should he/she wait at the stop?
Your child should arrive at the stop at least five minutes before the regular arrival time of the bus. If there is a substitute driver, the times may not be absolutely consistent with the regular times. If the bus is late ask your child to remain at the stop. Buses break down, roads are blocked, drivers become ill or have emergencies, but there will always be a bus at every stop. If the wait becomes extreme (approximately 30 minutes), please call Transportation at 459-6728.
2. What should be done if there is a transportation-related problem after office hours?
We staff the Transportation Office from 6:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. If there is a problem after these hours you can leave a message on our answering service and we will return your call as soon as possible, normally within a 24 hour period. If there is an extreme emergency, you can call the Shenandoah County Dispatcher at 459-6100 and ask them to contact the Transportation Supervisor.
3. My child's bus is overcrowded. Can some children be placed on another bus?
School bus sizes are stated in terms of passenger capacity for elementary schoolaged children. It is assumed that elementary school-aged children will ride three per seat. Middle school students are assumed to ride two-three per seat. High school students are assumed to ride two per seat. If the bus has 3 elementary students, 2-3 middle students, or 2 high school students in each seat, it will seem crowded but it will not be over capacity. It is our goal to fully utilize all the space on all the buses in our fleet.
4. I see buses all the time with only a few children on them. What are they doing?
Shenandoah County Public Schools' buses make one run into and out of schools each day. We currently carry over 5,568 students to school and bring them home daily. On the majority of these runs, SCPS buses achieve a load factor of more than 80%. However, we have many special programs that require that students be transported considerable distances. When transporting students to these special programs, the time length of the run sometimes makes it impossible to fully utilize the capacity of the bus. Often, however, as the bus travels within the school's attendance boundary it will stop and pick up additional students. Examples of these special programs would be: Governors School and Triplett Technical School that encompass multiple base school boundaries and result in light loads due to the number of students involved and the time and mileage to the centralized locations. Alternative programs, vocational programs, alternative schools, and other programs with limited enrollment and central location result in light loads. Special Education Programs - Special education runs tend to be light loaded due to the small number of children assigned to centers and the boundary can be within and outside of our county. Another reason is school boundaries. Some school boundaries cover wide land areas that extend bus runs in miles and time resulting in less than capacity loads.
5. We live very far from the school and there is no bus stop near for my child. How do I arrange transportation?
The SCPS provides for transportation for all students living in excess of fourtenths of a mile from school. Regardless of the distance, transportation will be provided if there is no safe walking route. School bus stops are designed to be within three-tenths of a mile for students from the residence where road conditions and vehicle access allows. Call Transportation at 540.459.6728/33 to establish a new bus stop. No school bus routes will be established on any road not maintained by the city or state highway department. Regular education school bus routes will not be established within a cul-de-sac or on a dead end roadway where backing up will be required. No additional pupil stops will be established where an existing pupil stop is within three-tenths of a mile for the requested location.
6. I can't see my child's bus stop from my house. How can I get the bus stop moved closer?
Bus stops are placed at centralized locations that can be safely accessed by a significant number of students to minimize the time length and mileage of the run. If you have concerns about your child's safety you are encouraged to accompany your child to the bus stop or arrange a neighborhood buddy to walk with your child. However, bus stops are typically designed to be within three-tenths of a mile for all students and students will not be expected to walk to a bus stop if there is an increased risk.
7. My child goes to a day care provider in an area with bus service. May my child ride the bus?
SCPS guidelines allow students to be transported to and from babysitters, we ask that your please fill out the Transportation Change Request Form so that we can ensure we provide you with the best possible delivery service. We will continue to provide transportation on a space available basis to children attending day care services in the school zone they attend.
8. My child is a special education student. To whom should I speak concerning their transportation?
The special needs transportation offices do not accept transportation requests over the phone. Transportation arrangements and changes must be coordinated through the Pupil Personnel Services Office or the administrative office at your child's school.
9. My child left a coat (glasses, instrument, retainer, books) on the bus. How does he get it back?
Drivers check their buses after every run. Items left by students are held by the driver for several days and may be claimed on the bus by the child. Fragile items are often taken out the buses in the evening for their protection, but will be available the next morning. After several days the driver will make an effort to locate the owner. Unclaimed and unlabeled items are donated to charity. You can help by labeling all of your child's school belongings with the child's name and school.
10. What are the different types of school buses?
Shenandoah County Public Schools use the conventional style school buses. The Conventional Style school bus is the traditional style with the long forward hood. The bus is equipped with swing-out "crossing gates" which force any students crossing in front of the bus to walk well out in front of the bus so that the driver can see him or her. In terms of bus sizes, the 64-passenger conventional buses are the ones that are used to transport most students. We also have 77-passenger buses that will be assigned based on the number of students on a route. The smaller buses are 34-passenger buses. These are nominal sizes, though. Many of these buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts. A single wheelchair position requires the same space as two or three bench seats. Therefore, a lift-equipped bus will carry far fewer passengers than its nominal size might indicate. All of our buses are diesel-powered. Additionally, all of our buses are equipped with two-way radios.
11. Why are school bus seats spaced so closely together?
The basic purpose in spacing school bus seats so closely is to contain the child in a cushioned compartment with only a minimum amount of space between energy absorbing surfaces. After extensive research during the 1970's, the Department of Transportation and its agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that the safest and most practical arrangement for school bus seating would be a "compartmentalization" concept. Accordingly, the new safety regulations established in 1977 included this requirement among many other improvements made that year. Under the compartmentalization concept, seat backs in school buses are made higher, wider and thicker than before. All metal surfaces are covered with foam padding. This structure must then pass rigid test requirements for absorbing energy, such as would be required if a child's body were thrown against the padded back. In addition, the equivalent of a seat back, called a "barrier," is placed in front of the first seat at the front of the bus. In addition to padding, today's seats also must have a steel inner structure that springs and bends forward to help absorb energy when a child is thrown against it. The steel frame must "give" just enough to absorb the child in the seat ahead. Also, of course, the seat is required to be anchored to the floor so strongly it will not pull loose during this bending action. The floor itself must be so strong that it will not be bent or torn by the pulling action of the seat anchors. Finally, the requirement is added that seat backs can be no farther apart than a distance that is deemed safe. Clearly, if the backs were too far apart, the child could be thrown too far before being cushioned and/or could be thrown outside the compartment altogether. Today's rules call for a seat back to be no farther than 24" away from a defined point in the middle of a child's abdomen (the seat reference point).
12. Why aren't seat belts required in school buses?
Seat belts are not required in school buses because research by DOT and others determined that compartmentalization was a better solution. Some of the key arguments favoring compartmentalization over seat belts are as follows:
a. Compartmentalization is more manageable. The protective surfaces exist in place without depending on any action by the children or any extra special supervision by the drivers. Seat belts require discipline and supervision to keep them clean, unraveled and in use.
b. Compartmentalization works equally well for 1, 2 or 3 students per seat. Today's 39" wide standard seats may contain three small children or two large ones, or any combination in between. Arranging seat belts to properly handle any combination is difficult, if not impossible; the best known solution with seat belts is to restrict each seat to two students and two belts, which has the disadvantage of sharply reducing the carrying capacity of bus fleets.
c. Compartmentalization works whether students have fully developed abdominal areas or not. Conventional seat belts, which are lap restraints only, are not suitable for small children whose abdominal area and bone structure are not adequately developed to take the force of a lap belt alone. They need the help of chest harnesses also, which adds to the complexity of a proper seat belt solution.
d. Compartmentalization, once it has done its energy-absorbing job, leaves the student free to escape the bus. Seat belts could leave students strapped in, upside down, perhaps unconscious, in burning or flooding buses.
e. Compartmentalization is most affordable. Although not a part of the DOT reasoning, this is a factor to be considered. In evaluating the cost of seat belts alone, one should include the cost of retractors and chest restraints also, since those appear needed. Even more important is the probability that a seat belt solution should lead to two students per seat and greater spacing between seats, thereby requiring more buses for the same student load.
13. Why are 39" seats in school buses rated for three children when they only will accommodate two?
The rated capacity of a 39" width passenger seat was devised many years ago by the committee then making recommendations to the National Minimum Standards for School buses. In determining seating capacity of a bus, an allowable average rump width standard was established. Accordingly, 13" of rump width was suggested when a 3 - 3 seating plan was used. This suggested guideline is still recognized by most states as the accepted approach. It is not a federally mandated requirement.
14. Do state regulations for school buses supersede federal requirements?
No. State laws do not supersede federal requirements. State regulations for school buses can and usually do add requirements for safety. These requirements are additional to the federal requirements.
15. Why are buses sometimes late?
School bus drivers can have the same reasons as motorists for being late. Traffic delays, weather conditions, accidents or driver's illness are just a few reasons. School buses also have mechanical breakdowns or "no starts" that cause delays in picking students up on time. A school bus may be able to run but have a red traffic light malfunction which would make it unsafe to pick up or discharge students on our highways, before it is repaired. In cases where the regularly assigned bus or driver is unable to pick up students, a separate bus and driver are dispatched to pick up the students.
16. Why aren't buses always available for field trips?
The first priority is to provide transportation to and from school. The school bus fleet does not contain a separate set of buses designated for field trip use. Therefore, whenever school buses are not in use for normal to and from school transportation, they are available for field trip use. For planning purposes, school buses are available on school days at 8:15 until 2:45 p.m. and again after 4:00 p.m. This allows drivers to complete their morning and in many cases the afternoon runs. Occasionally in the spring, the demand for field trips can outnumber the drivers and buses available. Transportation staff and requesters of field trips discuss individual circumstances. The priority will always be transporting the students to and from school.
17. Why are spare replacement buses needed?
Buses operate throughout the day with shuttles, kindergarten runs, and field trips, in addition to the normal to-and-from school transportation requirements. In order to have the required number of operational buses each day, a group of backup or spare buses must be retained. By state regulation, school buses are required to be serviced and inspected every 30 days. Furthermore, when a bus has mechanical problems or damage from accident or vandalism that require it to be out of service, a spare bus is needed to perform the duties of the out-of-service bus. Often, this can be for an extended period of time, especially in the case of accident repairs. Spare buses are also used during the year to augment the operating fleet when new student transportation requirements necessitate that the daily operating fleet be increased. Because of delays created by the budget, procurement, and production processes, it can take from nine months to a year for additional buses to arrive. During that time, the spare buses are used to satisfy the requirement.
18. What is the definition of a school bus?
A school bus is a vehicle that is sold or introduced in interstate commerce for purposes that include carrying students to and from school or related events, but does not include a bus designed and sold for operation as a common carrier in urban transportation. A school bus can be used to carry non-students, if local rules allow it, usually with the requirement that school bus signs and warning lights not be used. But a normal everyday transit bus or shuttle bus cannot be used to carry school children. Such buses do not have any of dozens of safety features required on a school bus, such as joint strength, roof strength or compartmentalized seating.
19. How can my child get picked up or dropped off at a day care provider's location?
If you want transportation to or from a day care provider's location, you should inform the school administration your child attends. Transportation to day care locations is provided within the attending school zone only. You are also requested to complete a Transportation Change Request Form so that we can ensure your child is delivered to a safe and secure location. We will work with the administration in the school to ensure your child's transportation services are completed.
20. How can I arrange to have my child ride a different bus home from school for one day?
The child's parent or guardian must send a written request to the school principal. If approved, the principal will provide written authorization to the driver of that bus.
21. How can a special needs child living inside a school's attendance zone be picked up at a regular school bus stop?
Transportation may be scheduled for a special needs child living inside a school's attendance zone to be picked up with their peers at a regular education school bus stop. The parent should call Transportation Services to voice their desire for this service. If your child requires a lift equipped bus we will assign them to one of our special education bus runs and provide door to door service. Parents should call transportation services at 540.459.6728/33 to express their desire/need for this service.
22. Are school bus assistants required on school buses transporting special needs children?
There is no regulation requiring school bus assistants on school buses. The assignment of school bus assistants is determined by the needs of the children riding the school bus.
The Shenandoah County School System endeavors to provide the best possible education for all of its students. Our transportation department is a vital part of the educational program. Safety is our most important consideration. The Code of Virginia permits school boards to provide transportation for students but does not require them to do so. Riding the school bus is a privilege, not a right. The school bus driver carries a substantial burden of responsibility and it is essential that all students cooperate by observing certain rules and regulations. Your full support is necessary if your child is to benefit from the safest possible transportation. The school bus is considered to be an extension of the school and the classroom. All policies, rules, and regulations that apply to students in school also apply while they are being transported. The school system is not responsible for any damaged, lost, or stolen items. Parents or guardians or their designee(s) of elementary students must be at the bus stop in the morning and afternoon. The following regulations are vital to the safe transportation of your children to and from schools. Parents should read this list in its entirety. Students are expected to abide by all regulations in the Student Code of Conduct while riding the bus.
1. STANDARDS OF STUDENT CONDUCT WHILE WAITING FOR THE BUS
Be on time. It is recommended that students be at their bus stop at least five minutes before the regular pickup time, but not earlier than ten minutes before this time.
Wait in a safe, designated place a minimum of 10 feet from the road.
Do not run towards or alongside a moving bus.
Wait until the bus has stopped, then walk up to the front door. If it is necessary to cross the highway, do so at the front of the bus and at least ten feet in front of the bus. Do not cross the highway until the driver has signaled that it is safe to do so.
Report immediately to the driver any illness or injury sustained on or around the bus.
2. STANDARDS OF STUDENT CONDUCT WHILE BOARDING THE BUS
Line up in a single file to board the bus.
Board quickly and in an orderly manner.
Proceed to a seat immediately.
Be seated before the bus is in motion.
3. STANDARDS OF STUDENT CONDUCT WHILE ON THE BUS
Do not throw objects inside the bus, or outside the bus windows or doors.
Do not put any part of your body out of the bus window.
Do not transport objects that are too large to be held on a student's lap or to be held on the floor in front of the student's seat.
Do not bring water guns or any other container that is used to disperse liquids in a similar fashion to that of a water gun.
Glass containers or glass objects are not allowed on a bus.
Use of electronic devices is allowed unless it becomes disruptive.
Identify yourself upon the request of the driver or authorized school personnel.
All trash must be deposited in the trash can.
Do not open the emergency door except in the case of an emergency.
No animals are allowed on a bus.
Keep aisle clear of feet, arms, and other objects.
Keep noise to a minimum.
Sit facing forward and do not change seats without the driver's permission. Remain seated while the bus is in motion.
No physical displays of affection.
4. STANDARDS OF STUDENT CONDUCT WHILE UNLOADING
Remain seated until the bus comes to a complete stop.
Unload in a single file and in an orderly manner.
Leave the bus areas, when safety permits, as soon as you are discharged from the bus. Cross the highway, if it is necessary to do so, at the front of the bus and at least ten feet in front of the bus. Do not cross the highway until the driver has signaled that it is safe to do so.
Vandalizing a school bus may result in restitution, loss of riding privileges, suspension from school, and/or legal prosecution.
Unauthorized persons are not allowed to board.
Students who plan to use transportation other than their regular bus, or load or unload at a stop other than their regular stop, must have written parental permission and prior written approval from the appropriate school official.
Profanity, abusive language, and obscene gestures will not be tolerated.
Disrespectful actions toward the driver, other students, or the general public will not be tolerated.
Fighting, while waiting for, loading, riding, or unloading from the bus will not be tolerated.
Students riding buses for field trips and extra-curricular activities are under the same regulations as during a regular day schedule.
6. VIOLATIONS AND CONSEQUENCES
When a student violates a rule, he/she will be reported to the administrator of his/her school. The administrator will determine whether the violation is minor, serious, or severe (Level 1-4) and take the appropriate action based on that determination. Consideration may be given to age, disability status, and developmentally appropriate behavior. The school principal/designee will have the authority to suspend the riding privileges of students and/or take other reasonable disciplinary actions for students who exhibit improper behavior on the bus. School Administrators will determine the disciplinary action based on severity and frequency of referrals. Below you will find a list of violations that are categorized as minor (Level 1), serious (Level 2) or severe (Level 3). Please note that some infractions are included in more than one list. If so, the administrator will determine which category to use in order to apply the consequence for the infraction. In addition, should a violation not be listed in any category the administration shall determine the category to use when applying the consequence. The listed behaviors are examples of behaviors that may be disruptive or compromise safety on the bus and are not intended to be exhaustive. Suspension of bus riding privileges includes all buses to and from school. In addition, any violation may be shifted from one category to another if the situation warrants.
MINOR (Level 1)
Body parts outside the bus Failure to follow directions Changing clothes on the bus Pushing and/or shoving Excessive mischief (horseplay, etc.) Intentionally riding the wrong bus Getting off at the wrong stop Showing affection Verbal confrontation with a student Writing on bus seat(s) Inappropriate language Throwing objects Jumping over seats Excessive noise Lying down in the seat Not remaining seated Legs in aisle Littering on bus Disrespect
Consequences will range from a conference up to and including denial of bus riding privilege and/or consequences as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.
SERIOUS (Level 2)
Abusive language, profanity, or obscene gestures Assault Shooting projectiles Bullying Spraying aerosol Striking matches or lighter Stealing Fighting Throwing objects on the bus Inappropriate actions toward motorists Throwing objects outside the bus Insubordination Use of laser pointer or reflective device Opening emergency door Use of pepper spray Vandalism Verbal confrontation with a student Possession and/or use of tobacco products Verbally threatening student
Consequences will range from 3 days suspension of bus riding privilege up to and including suspension of bus riding privilege for the remainder of the school year and/or consequences as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.
SEVERE (Level 3)
Assault Possession of a weapon Possession and/or discharging of firecrackers or other explosive devices Sexual misconduct Possession and/or consumption of alcohol Severe safety violations Possession of drugs and/or drugDistribution of alcohol or drugs paraphernalia Lighting flammable sprays, liquids, etc.
Consequences will range from 6 days suspension of bus riding privilege up to and including suspension of bus riding privilege for the remainder of the school year and/or consequences as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.
Parents are asked to call the main office of the school and ask for a Transportation Request Form when there is a change of address that affects bus transportation before and/or after school.
School Closings & Delays
a month ago
We announce all school closings and delays via our Mass Communication service called SchoolMessenger. If you have a student in our division and you are not receiving calls, please contact the school your child(ren) attends.
The safety of our students is always the number one goal of the Shenandoah County Public Schools' Transportation Department. Safety is the foremost thought in every Transportation employee's mind, whether that employee is a bus driver, an aide, a mechanic, or an administrator. During the last school year, our drivers safely transported SCPS students in 87 well-maintained school buses over 525,350 miles. Parents and other guardians have also done their part to ensure safety through the supervision of children to and from bus stops and though their own safe driving to and from school activities.
Bus Safety Tips
a month ago
To help ensure our students arrive to and from school safely each day, please take note of the following school bus safety tips:
Be sure your child arrives at their bus stop 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
When the bus approaches, remind your child to stand at least 5 giant steps away from the curb and line up away from the bus.
Never run after the school bus if it has already left the bus stop.
Never run in front or behind the school bus to pick up something that your child dropped or forgot.
Make sure you tell your child never to get on the bus until it has completely stopped.
After the bus stops and the door opens, take firm hold of the handrail and get onto the bus.
Never push another student while getting on or off the bus.
All students riding the bus should go directly to a seat and sit quietly. This allows the bus driver to concentrate on driving safely.
Students should never place any part of their body through the bus window.
When outside of the bus, make sure your child is aware of the danger zones and is always within sight of the bus driver. The Danger Zone is a 10-foot wide area on all sides of a school bus -- an area where children are in the most danger of being hit. Children should be taught to stay 10 feet away from a school bus (or as far away as they can) and never go behind it. They should be told to take five giant steps in front of the bus before crossing so the driver can see them.
Please review the following bus safety reminders for all motorists and share them with a neighbor or friend:
Never pass on the right side of a school bus where children enter or exit. This is illegal and can have tragic results.
Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop and load or unload children. Motorists need to slow down and prepare to stop.
Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm mean the bus has stopped and children are boarding or exiting the bus. Motorists must come to a complete stop a safe distance from the bus and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the stop arm is retracted, and the bus begins moving before they start driving again