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Schools observe bus safety week

There are more than 3,000 reasons why it’s important for local schools to participate in school bus safety week – after all, each one of them ride to and from their home on the yellow buses.

The weeklong annual event in Alabama is designed to promote bus safety to bus drivers, parents, teachers and students. A major focus of the week is safety around school buses, especially while buses are loading and unloading.

If anyone can attest to the importance of school bus safety, it’s students in the Covington County School System. In April, an 8-year-old third grader at W. S. Harlan Elementary School was accidentally run over when she apparently was slow in crossing in front of a school bus.

In the Andalusia City School System, an estimated 650 students are transported daily, with buses traveling on average about 65,000 miles a year, said Bob Harry, system transportation coordinator.

“That figure does not include athletic and extracurricular miles, which varies each year, Harry said. “Last year, we logged over 18,000 miles for those categories.”

In the Covington County School System, the number of students using bus transportation nearly quadruples, said Donny Franklin, CCS transportation coordinator.

“We have 65 buses running 48 daily routes,” Franklin said. “There are about 2,360 students who ride daily. Round trip, that’s about 3,100 per day or 558,000 per year.”

In the Opp City School System, there are nine buses that transport 672 students and travel 290 miles per day, said Shawn Short, the system’s transportation coordinator.

All three transportation directors said buses undergo routine maintenance and inspection.

“Every 20 days, we pull our buses in for a 110 point inspection,” Franklin said. “Once a year, the state comes in and does an inspection.”

Harry said all system CDL holders must attend a state recertification class each year to remain state certified to drive a bus.

As for the practical application of school bus safety, both said teachers and school staff have spent the week stressing the importance of maintaining a safe distance at bus stops, the importance of staying in one’s seat and keeping noise level to a minimum, Franklin said.

Andalusia Elementary School student Zaria Jones loads the bus Wednesday. | Kendra Bolling /Star News