On Wednesday, a terrible thing happened. There was a substitute in a kindergarten class and at the end of the day, she came to me and told me there was a mama looking for her son, and the sub didn't know where he was. She thought that maybe he had gone with the bus children so I ran to check the line. All of our bussers line up at the far end of the school in their individual bus lines. I walked up and down the lines calling for this little fellow and eventually saw him sitting at the end of the line, not responding at all to the sound of his name. I pulled him out of line and delivered him to mama who promptly scolded him for trying to take the bus when he knew she walked him home every day. Problem solved right?
Nope, turned out there was another mama who couldn't find her son (same class). This little guy has a heart monitor. Mama was near hysterics and all the sub could say was, "Well I didn't have a bus list, so I asked the children who rode the bus and I think he must have gone on a bus."
Now, she did have a list of bus students, it was just on the last page of a long packet of sub notes and she hadn't bothered to read all the way through. Sub promptly left, while we combed the bus lines again.
Unfortunately one bus had already left by this time and no one could remember if he had been on it.
We radioed the bus driver who said he did not have the child. This led to the police being called and the teachers and the boy's family scouring the school, playground and neighborhood, thinking maybe he had tried to walk with a friend. After about an hour and a half one of neighborhood boys walked up to the school to report that an extra child had shown up at the daycare down the street. Thankfully, it was the missing boy, who had been dropped off by the bus driver who had said that he was not on the bus!
I was so thankful that he was found safely, but I tell you I was scared, scared scared! Walking though the neighborhood around our school was disturbing. We're a high poverty school, and you never realize the difference in these children's lives until you see where they are coming from.
Our principal has implemented a new policy saying that all teachers should have a list of bus students posted visibly in the classroom. The primary team is also now required to note down who picks up each child each day. The even more disturbing thing? The sub was back in that kindergarten class again the next day! At the end of the day she came to me, claiming that the posted bus list was incorrect because several other children also said they were supposed to take the bus and their names were not on the list. She was ready to let 2 more boys get in the bus line, regardless of the posted list! I explained to the kinders that if they got on a bus when they weren't supposed to the bus driver wouldn't know where to find their families and they would be lost. Sure enough, the two boys sat down right away.
So, our dismissal is a few minutes longer while I note everyone who comes to pick up a child, but if it prevents another 2 hour search for a child then I think it's worth it! Have you ever lost a child at your school?