This last school year has been unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Some students were learning from home, others were in the classroom. Some students were being transported, but only in every other row, or in smaller vehicles with only their siblings. Some of our transportation services were being utilized to deliver meals and equipment to students, instead of delivering students to schools.
With all of the change and uncertainty we’ve all been through this last year, it’s no surprise that so many of our kiddos are ready to get back in the classroom, back to their routines and the stability those provide.
As you begin thinking about next year and all of the newness that will come with it, we suggest three simple things to keep in mind:
1. Children thrive on consistency and structure.
“Consistency allows boundaries to be set, which actually provides children with a sense of safety. When unexpected changes occur, their safety and security is impacted, sometimes causing anxiety (source).” For children already suffering from unseen disabilities, these seemingly minor changes can impact their day and have long lasting effects on their behavior as well.
“Structure helps parents and their kids. Kids feel safe and secure because they know what to expect. Parents feel confident because they know how to respond, and they respond the same way each time (source).”
As transportation professionals, we know that consistent routes with the same driver every day helps to ease our own worries. If we know we have a driver we can count on to show up every day, our worries about that route go away and we can focus on the issues that haven’t been solved. It’s no different for the students.
2. Flexibility and transparency are key.
“To move forward effectively and efficiently, school districts must be willing to be flexible and identify and address ongoing hurdles (source).” These hurdles encompass all different types of students, but most often have an effect on those with special needs, children experiencing homelessness, and those in foster care.
How do we keep consistency while being flexible and transparent? They almost seem to be a huge contradiction, but they actually complement each other. Providing the same driver every day, for example, gives the student a sense of stability and trust. Being flexible enough to quickly adapt to new and/or updated vehicle cleaning guidelines, helps to keep the students safe without them ever even knowing something changed.
3. It’s the little things.
When serving students who have specific transportation requirements, it’s important to remember the little things.
Making sure each student has the equipment they need, tracking each student’s trip, in-person customer service, parent, school, and provider outreach, timely and accurate accident/incident reports, and up-to-date trip information, all seem like such small things, but all together they take up a lot of your time.
If you outsource your transportation, whether it’s your buses, smaller vehicles, or both, these “little things” are critical to having a successful program and giving you the peace of mind you need to be able to focus on what’s really important – the students. The good news is that if you’re outsourcing, you can work with your contractor(s) to take care of these little things for you.
Enjoy your summer!
You’ve worked hard this year and have learned a lot of new things. Next year we’ll all learn some more new things, and we’ll be stronger and better because of it. In the meantime, remember consistency, flexibility, and the little things are key to being successful in a world full of change. Enjoy your summer and look forward to next year and the learning experience it will be for all of us.
- Why Structure and Consistency Are Important For Kids, Jessica Orlick, MS, CCC-SLP; https://www.kidscreektherapy.com/why-structure-and-consistency-are-important-for-kids/
- Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; https://www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/structure/building.html
- The Risk of Underestimating School Transportation Challenges for Children with Disabilities Under the Coronavirus, Linda Bluth, School Bus Ride; https://school-busride.com/the-risk-of-underestimating-school-transportation-challenges-for-children-with-disabilities-under-the-coronavirus/