Safety

Parents and guardians should discuss transportation conduct and safety rules with their children and share the safety tips below. Make the trip to and from school both safe and enjoyable—think safety at all times.

WEATHER ADVISORY

During inclement weather months, OPT would like to ensure students are embarking and disembarking the bus in a safe place. Schools, bus students and parents are reminded that extra caution should be taken during this time of year.

Please take a moment and review this important information:
  • Dress appropriately for the colder weather. Unexpected mechanical problems with the bus may occur more frequently at this time of year. Students should wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing when waiting at the stop.

  • Usually cold, icy, or stormy weather can result in bus schedules being unavoidably delayed. We encourage parents to use extra caution with children on those days. Children should be accompanied to the bus stop or have very clear instructions on what to do if the bus does not arrive. Never leave children at the stop with no backup arrangements for an emergency.

  • A build-up of ice and snow can create a safety hazard for children waiting at the bus stop. Emphasize the importance of standing back from the curb as the bus approaches the stop.

  • Snow drifts or ice frequently make it impractical to put the bus lift down in front of the child’s residence. The bus crew must ensure that the student is completely on clear-and-dry pavement, where possible. Parents/guardians should discuss with the bus crew the best place to pick up and drop off a student who uses a wheelchair or an ambulatory aid.

  • We recommend students using the steps of the bus to hold onto handrails to embark and disembark the bus in an orderly fashion. No running, jumping, pushing or shoving.

  • Never exit the bus into a snow bank. If the bus stops and the child is unable to get out due to the exit being blocked by snow, tell the driver that the path is not clear.

  • Do not walk/play on snow mounds or ice near roadways; you could fall and slip into the roadway and be at risk of being struck by a vehicle.

Forecast (NWS) Windchill Advisory (NOAA) Wind Advisory (NOAA) Hazardous Weather Outlook (NOAA)

Safety Tips for Students Riding a Bus

  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it's okay before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
  • Use the handrails to avoids falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings, and book bags with straps don't get caught in the handrails or doors.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • After you get off the bus, walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.
  • If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.
  • Students can only board/disembark the bus at their designated stop.
  • On the bus, children should talk quietly, be courteous to the driver and follow the driver's instructions. They should stay seated during the entire bus ride and keep the aisles clear.

Safety Tips for Students Riding a Train

  • Be careful when going up or down stairs.
  • Stand back from the edge of the platform.
  • Never jump onto the tracks for any reason.
  • If the train is stuck between stations, stay in the train and follow instructions.
  • Do not ride between cars.
  • Do not attempt to get on the train after it has started moving.
  • If there are no seats, find a pole to hold on to.
  • Do not eat or drink on the train.
  • Don't write on the seats or walls of a train.

Safety Tips for Students Walking to School or a Bus Stop

OPT encourages as many students as possible to add healthy exercise to their daily routine by walking to school. In addition to the safety tips listed below, maps of safe routes to each school and other resources are available from the New York City Department of Transportation.

  • Always walk in groups and know the safest route. Never take shortcuts.
  • Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and use intersections with crossing guards. Test the route. Stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields, and other places where there aren't many people around.
  • Cross the street in a designated crosswalk. Be extra careful in rainy, foggy, or snowy weather.
  • Always look left, then right, then left again before crossing a street and allow enough time to cross the street safely.
  • Know your home phone number and address, parent/guardians’ work numbers, the number of another trusted adult, and how to use 911 for emergencies. Never talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers.

Seat Belts on Yellow School Buses

Section 383 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law requires seat belts for school buses that transport general education students and were manufactured after July 1, 1987. All OPT buses are required by contract to be manufactured after 1988 and to have seat belts. There is currently no law requiring that seat belts, where provided on large general education buses, be used. The only students mandated by the NYC Administrative Codes Sections 19-601, 19-602 and 19-603 to wear seat belts are special education students.


Wheelchairs

Bus Drivers and Attendants receive training and instruction how to safely transport students who use wheelchairs. This focus on safety includes the following four areas: Having the correct equipment on board; using the hydraulic lift safely; securing the chair properly; and protecting the rider. View our safety poster here.


Lap Trays

Lap Trays should never be left attached to a wheelchair during transport and should not have been transported in the past. Federal guidelines specify that any adaptive equipment or “accessories” on wheelchairs be removed prior to transport because, when left attached, a hard plastic tray can cause internal injury in the event of a crash or sudden stop. Further, proper trunk support for a child in a wheelchair should be achieved via a postural support or vest. The lap tray should not be the only means for a student to sit upright with proper positioning. The tray, once removed, must be secured (also per Federal Guidelines) to 5-Gs (or 5x) its weight. OPT has purchased lap tray pouches so the tray can be removed from the wheelchair and safely stored during transport; the pouch goes over a seat and there is a pocket into which the tray can be inserted.


Car Seats

New York State Law has specific requirements for the use of Child Safety Restraint Systems (CSRS) or Car Seats by students using school buses, which may be different than DMV policy regarding their use in private vehicles. In short, all students under the age of four are required to travel using a car seat on a bus. Over age four, car seats are recommended for children weighing less than 50 pounds. Students age four and above over 50 pounds may travel without a car seat, using the seatbelts present on the vehicle. Read more here.


Safety Drills

All schools, including Pre-K and Early Intervention sites, are required to conduct at least three school bus safety drills per school year. The first must be during the first week of the fall term (the first five days), the second between November 1 and December 31, and the third between March 1 and April 30. The bus safety drills include practice and instruction in the location, use and operation of the emergency door, fire extinguishers, first-aid equipment and windows as a means of escape in case of fire or accident. Principals use the safety drill completion form to document the drills.


Confirmed Head Lice on School Bus

The Office of Pupil Transportation adheres to New York City Public Schools “no head lice” policy. Students with head lice will be excluded from the bus, school, and all other activities when lice are identified. Parents should be notified, instructed of treatment, and asked to pick up the students as soon as possible. All school/facility(s) of affected route(s) must be contacted, along with the parents of other students, and any school personal (such as an assigned Para Professional) who have come in contact with the student. Students will not be permitted to return to the school bus until notification is given from the principal or principal’s designee that the student is lice free.

Immediately following notification of infestation the school bus driver should thoroughly clean the bus by;
  1. Removing all items from the school bus that are cloth or cloth-like items. These include discarded clothing, gloves or boots, and any removable cloth seat backs. Wash everything in hot water to make sure the lice are killed.
  2. Sweep out the school bus completely to remove all dust and dirt from the floors and seats.
  3. Spray down the floors, seats, walls, and windows with a strong disinfectant that kills bugs and germs. Wash the interior of the bus with soap and water, rinse, and let it air dry.

Additional information regarding the NYCDOE “no lice” policy can be found through the following link:

http://schools.nyc.gov/offices/health/pediculosis/default.htm