Sept - Nov Issue
September 24, 2014

Bus drivers put safety first

Author: By Leslie Duncan Fottrell
Source: NYSUT United
School bus drivers, mechanics and moni┬Čtors, all members of the Bethlehem Central United Employees Association, participate in training sessions and get ready to start their engines for the school year. Photo by Marty Kearns Jr.
Caption: School bus drivers, mechanics and monitors, all members of the Bethlehem Central United Employees Association, participate in training sessions and get ready to start their engines for the school year. Photo by Marty Kearns Jr.

More than 2.3 million children in New York state ride the iconic yellow school bus to and from school each day. School bus drivers, however, do more than just keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. They manage student behavior, administer first aid and handle emergency situations.

Before the start of a new school year, thousands of School-Related Professionals across the state take part in opportunities to learn about new regulations and strategies for keeping students safe on the bus. NYSUT represents about 8,000 drivers, mechanics and monitors.

About 90 school bus drivers, monitors and mechanics of the Bethlehem Central United Employees Association in Delmar, for example, participated in a refresher workshop in late August that covered health and safety and student behavior concerns.

"This training gives us the opportunity to be ready and to focus on our students as soon as school starts," Bethlehem Central UEA President Charles Jones said. "What we do today makes us stronger as a unit, as a team and keeps us calm."

BCUEA members learned best practices for transporting students with a variety of health needs, such as epilepsy and allergies. They learned how to recognize symptoms, handle emergencies and call for assistance while keeping the students on their buses calm.

School nurse Kathryn Betzhold, a member of the Bethlehem Central Teachers Association, said it's important for drivers and monitors to call for help as soon as they think it is needed. "I want to empower them to do that," she said. She reviewed symptoms of allergic reactions.

At a hands-on workshop, monitors learned how to use an EpiPen, an epinephrine autoinjector that treats allergic emergencies, and to use glucagon, which treats severe low blood sugar levels students with insulin-dependent diabetes may experience.

Guest speaker David Krause, who has Asperger's syndrome, offered drivers and monitors tips to accommodate students with the disorder. Krause said people with Asperger's or autism spectrum disorders can have extremely acute hearing. "I can hear people whispering in another room," he said. Seemingly ordinary sounds may be unbearable for some students and he suggested monitoring the noise level and allowing students to wear headphones.

Cindy Jurewicz, director of transportation for the Bethlehem Central School District and a former school bus driver, presented Krause with a certificate of appreciation for sharing his experiences. "If you have any doubt the impact you make on students with special needs this is your proof," she told participants.

Register now for SRP conference

Online registration for local presidents and chapter leaders is open for the School-Related Professionals Leadership Conference Oct. 24-26 at the Desmond Hotel, Albany. Visit www.nysut.org/srpconference. Don't miss this professional learning opportunity. Hurry! The deadline to register is Sept. 26.

Thank an SRP

School-Related Professionals are at the heart of learning and good health in our schools. Show your support on Tuesday, Nov. 18 — SRP Recognition Day. Please share photos from your celebration at www.facebook.com/NYSUTUnited.