Workers at school bus shops have been busy this summer ensuring that the buses are ready for the road and area children by the first day of school.
“We want to be sure that the buses are safe going to and from school,” said Wylie McDaniel, county supervisor with the Aiken School Bus Maintenance Shop.
In South Carolina, school buses are owned by the state Department of Education, which is also responsible for maintenance. Bus shops are located throughout the state to perform maintenance on the buses, everything from oil and tire changes to building engines and replacing seat cushions.
Many buses get their annual inspections during the summer, said McDaniel, noting all buses also receive regular maintenance during the school year.
This year, approximately 11,000 Aiken County students will use the school buses, said Maria McClure, executive manager of transportation for Aiken County Public Schools.
As the first day of school approaches, parents are asked to remind children about safety at the bus stops.
“Remind the students to be on time at the bus stop and to stand back off the road,” she said. “The bus driver will be out looking for the students, but also be aware of other cars passing along the road. Students should wait for the bus to arrive before crossing the street and they should pay attention to the bus drivers.”
A parent or guardian of pupils in kindergarten through second grade must be present at the bus stop when their child is dropped off.
“If they are not there to receive the child, the child is taken back to the school,” she said.
Parents can find complete routes, including stops and approximate morning pick-up times, on the school district’s Web site, or it can be obtained by calling the transportation office.
Parents may experience some delays in the afternoon with drop off times, said McClure.
“The first week of school is usually busy, but the routes in the morning are pretty much on schedule. In the afternoon, it varies,” she said. “Be patient with us and if you have a question, call the transportation office.”
Staff will remain at the office until they know each child has been dropped off safely, she said.
Parents whose children are riding the bus for the first time should not worry, McClure added.
Bus drivers will not drop a child off in an unfamiliar area, and at the schools there will be teachers and principals present to ensure the child gets on the correct bus, she said.
“Our priority is to get your child to and from school safely,” she said.