Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions and suggested answers have been developed to clarify concerns regarding student transportation.
1. Who determines the walking distance from home to school for students?
The Member School Boards determine a reasonable walking distance for students. The minimum walking distances are:
· JK - SK 250 meters to a bus stop
· Grades 1 -3 1.0 km
· Grades 4 - 8 1.6 km
· Grades 9 - 12 2.5 km
Parents of a child within the designated walking requirements have the primary duty of care to ensure the safe arrival of their child to school.
2. What are the walk to stop distances for students?
Where possible, we plan central stops which are approximately half the walking distance for each grade group: JK-SK - 0.25 km Grades 1 to 3 - 0.5 km Grades 4 to 8 - 0.8 km Grades 9 to 12 - 1.25 kms
3. If I am expected to walk to school and there is a bus in my area with empty seats, can I ride the vehicle?
Non-eligible riders are not permitted to ride any vehicle having empty seats as there is no way to respond to those requests equitably across the region.
For example, in high density areas, a vehicle having 5 empty seats could have 30 non-eligible students requesting those 5 seats. In addition, the issue of consistency in the application of the policy is essential.
4. Are kindergarten students supposed to be picked up at their houses?
Kindergarten students will be required to walk to/from regular school bus stops for the morning pick-up and afternoon drop-off.
5. Can I be transported to an alternate address?
Students can be transported to an alternate address. Example: sitter, day care, dual custody.
· the locations are within the school boundaries; and
· the request is made by the parent/guardian
· the approved pick up or drop off locations are consistent every week.
6. Should I be hurt or injured and cannot easily get to school, i.e. broken leg, will the Sudbury Student Services Consortium provide transportation services?
Transportation services may be provided in cases of short term disability - i.e. broken leg in a cast, provided that the student mobility allows for boarding and disembarking of the school bus. Students may be required to make their way to an existing bus stop.
7. How long does the transportation policy permit a student to ride on a vehicle?
The length of time for a student to ride on a vehicle will normally not exceed 60 minutes one way for JK to grade 6 students and 75 minutes for students in grades 7 to 12.
8. What factors are considered when planning school bus routes?
The following factors are considered when planning school bus routes:
· grade,age, health and physical condition of the passengers
· condition of the roads to be traveled
· school schedule
· distances between homes and schools
· number and size of available buses
· number of passengers to be served
· size of area
· location of bus stops
· seasonal conditions (such as snow banks)
· location of safe turn-around points
9. Can I choose an alternative stop as a point of pick up or drop off?
You may choose a stop other than the one assigned providing it is an existing eligible stop on a route serving your school.
10. If student behavior on vehicles is less than ideal and this is not a good influence for my child, can I request another vehicle?
Students are held accountable to the school principal for their actions while on a vehicle. All applicable school policies and procedures are to be adhered to, and situations of misbehavior or misconduct are to be remedied by the principal.
11. Can my children, in different grades, ride together?
Only in situations where eligibility for service qualifies them. Should the eligibility requirements or schools differ, transportation routing may be on different vehicles.
12. Can I request changes in service directly from the driver?
Drivers are employees of the transportation company and are not authorized to make any changes or accommodate requests. Transportation companies are under contract with the Sudbury Student Services Consortium and therefore both the carrier and the driver must comply with the Sudbury Student Services Consortium’s policies and terms of the contract. A driver cannot and will not authorize requests. It would be inappropriate to place the driver in jeopardy through demands contrary to policy or to their conditions of employment.
Any request for a change to a stop location or for the addition of a bus stop must be submitted to the Sudbury Student Services Consortium. After reviewing the request, the Sudbury Student Services Consortium will decide whether the request will be approved or denied. Notification will then be given to the person making the request, the transportation company and the school. All stops must be authorized by the Sudbury Student Services Consortium so that we can maintain accurate bus route information.
13. Has the Sudbury Student Services Consortium compromised students’ safety by not recognizing hazards?
The Sudbury Student Services Consortium owes a duty of care to students from the point at which time they board a "contracted" vehicle until the student disembarks at school.
Parents have the primary duty of care up to the point at which students enter a "contracted" vehicle, and/or if their child is required to walk to school, up to the time they enter the closest entrance to school property.
All students must face challenges/obstacles after school hours, on weekends, and holiday periods, including the summer months. Children’s awareness of these and other hazards is essential to minimizing exposure to risk throughout the day. Also, many students who are eligible for transportation services will find alternative means to and from school from time to time in order to accommodate their personal schedules and interests, ie., extra-curricular activities, clubs, work schedules, sporting activities, music, etc. Parents have the primary duty of care in those cases.
Hazards that are being identified by parents, such as:
· no sidewalks
· Wild life (Bears)
· traffic speed
· no posted school signage
· no cross walks
· no crossing guards
· no railroad crossing controls
are not a part of the Sudbury Student Services Consortium’s mandate to rectify. These identified hazards are under the jurisdiction of regional and municipal governments/agencies. Only through their efforts can long-term solutions be achieved. The Sudbury Student Services Consortium will forward parental concerns onto the municipality, both for their awareness and consideration for action. The Sudbury Student Services Consortium is prepared to support parents and communities in an effort to have the regional municipalities recognize the identified safety concerns so that they may be adequately addressed.
14. I live on a dead end street. Why won’t the school bus come down my street?
Many dead end streets cannot accommodate safe turn around points for buses.
15. I am going on vacation and I want my children dropped off at a different location.
Temporary changes cannot be accommodated unless for a duration of no less than one month and must also meet the transportation policy guidelines.
16. My son plays hockey after school and has been told that he can’t bring his hockey equipment on the bus. Why is this a problem?
Aisles must be kept clear of obstacles at all times. Skis, ski poles, snowshoes, sleighs, hockey bags, or skateboards are strictly prohibited at all times. Only small items that can be easily placed on a students lap will be permitted.
17. Why can’t students eat on the bus?
Eating and drinking are not allowed on the bus for safety reasons. A child could choke on a piece of food and with the high seat backs and noise on the bus, the driver may not be aware of the situation until it is too late. Left over food and drink not only causes a mess, but can attract bees and wasps. Some students have a very severe reaction to bee stings and to some foods such as peanut butter. It is safer for everyone when the no eating and drinking rule is adhered to.
18. The bus stops at my neighbors house, why can’t it stop at my house too?
Stops are created centrally to accommodate a multiple number of students. It is recommended that bus stops be a minimum of 300 meters (1,000 feet) apart and shall allow a minimum of 150 meters (500 feet) of clear vision in both directions. Bus stops should not be located on a steep grade, brow of a hill or on a blind curve.
19. Who is responsible for my child/children to and from their bus stop?
The parent/guardian is responsible for the safety and conduct of the child/children on the way to and from the bus stop and while they are waiting at the bus stop.
20. How does the Sudbury Student Services Consortium calculate walk distances?
Measurement of distance for eligibility purposes will be determined from the municipal road in front of the student’s residence to the nearest, maintained entrance to the school, via the shortest route using both roadway and maintained pathway/walkways.
21. In the event of inclement weather, should I send my child to school?
Parents have the right to make the final decision in sending children to school during inclement weather.
22. When will the Sudbury Student Services Consortium decide to cancel school bus transportation in bad weather?
The Sudbury Student Services Consortium will make every effort to announce the decision to cancel school buses and/or close schools before the start of the school day between 6:00 am and 7:00 am and as such, will post announcements with the local radio stations and the Sudbury Student Services Consortium’s website.
23. What makes school vehicles safe?
All buses built since 1980 meet safety standards developed by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA D-250) and set by Transport Canada.
The size and bright yellow color make school buses very visible.
The school bus is designed to protect passengers from impact. The floor is raised, the window glass is shatter-proof, and there are strengthened reinforcements along the sides of the bus.
The flashing lights and stop arm warn motorists that they must stop for a stopped school bus.
The high penalty (six demerit points and a substantial fine) acts as an effective deterrent to motorists who might fail to stop for a school bus.
School bus drivers receive special training and licensing, rigorous examinations and must maintain a good driving record.
24. What is Ontario’s School Bus Stopping Law?
Motorists in both directions meeting a stopped school bus with its overhead red signal lights flashing and stop arm extended must stop. The law applies everywhere, regardless of the posted speed limit - on highways, country roads, city, town or village streets. Only on highways separated by a median strip is oncoming traffic not required to stop.
25. Why aren’t seat belts required on school vehicles?
Some parents are surprised to find that while seat belt use is mandatory in passenger vehicles, their children travel unrestrained on a school bus. School buses are designed to protect passengers through "compartmentalization". This means that school buses have:
· seats with high backs;
· seats positioned close together to form compartments;
· seats filled with energy-absorbing material;
· strong seat anchorages.
Parents also need to be aware of additional information about seat belts:
· To be effective, seat belts must be worn correctly (snug and low on the hips for full protection. Seat belts which are not correctly worn may cause injuries.)
· Because school vehicles carry passengers from the very young to high school students, seat belt fit must be readjusted and use monitored to ensure safety.
· Because of increased use, seat belts on school buses are subject to more wear and tear, and their condition must be monitored.
· Studies using crash test dummies have shown that adding seat belts to the current school bus seating arrangement can actually increase the chance of head and neck injuries in restrained passengers.
26. How can school vehicle safety be improved?
Most injuries to school vehicle passengers occur outside the school bus, as students are entering or leaving the bus, or crossing the street. Many of these mishaps can be prevented through education.
School vehicle safety can be improved by teaching children the correct procedures and proper behavior around school buses. Children should learn:
- to be at the school bus stop on time (5-10 mins. prior to scheduled pick up time);
- to wait in a safe place well back from the side of the road;
- to know the danger zones around the bus where the driver cannot see them;
- to enter the bus in single file, holding onto the handrail;
- to find a seat right away, and stay seated, facing forward at all times;
- to make sure that there is nothing in the aisle;
- to do what the bus driver says;
- that it is unsafe to distract the driver;
- that throwing things, misbehavior and eating, drinking or smoking are not allowed;
- to keep heads and arms inside the bus.
Children leaving the bus must be careful:
· If they can touch the bus, they are too close.
· They should stay away from the side of the road, not play on snow banks.
· If children drop something near the bus, they must learn to leave it and inform an adult; they should never pick it up because they may be out of the driver’s sight.
If children must cross the street:
· Children must walk at least ten feet in front of the bus along the side of the crossing arm and look at the driver before crossing.
· Children should look for a signal from the driver before walking across the street.
· Children should look all ways before crossing the roadway.
· Parents should meet children on the side of the street where the bus stops.
27. Will my bus stop change every year?
During the year, there may be changes in bus stop locations due to the changing student population..
28. How will I be informed of possible changes to my child’s route throughout the year?
Your child’s route may have to be modified due to new students, or as a result of operation issues throughout the year. Parents will receive information concerning any changes that occur from the Sudbury Student Services Consortium. This information may also be communicated to parents/guardians in the form of an automated messaging system.
29. How do I find out my child’s new pick up time in September?
Students and parents will receive information in June outlining the dates and manners in which to obtain their child’s transportation information during the first two weeks of August.
30. Who do I call if my child does not return home on the school bus, at the normal time?
If your child does not arrive home in the afternoon, the first step should be to contact the school to see if the child is still there. If the student is not at the school, the next step would be to contact the Sudbury Student Services Consortium at (705)521-1234 or toll free at 1-877-225-1196.
31. What can parents do to prepare children to ride the bus?
As a parent you should remind your children to be extra careful when getting on and off the school bus. Always have them take a second look for traffic before crossing the road.
Also, remind your children to follow the school bus safety rules learned at school. Encourage them to help the driver keep his/her attention on the driving task. The children can do this by behaving, being as quiet as possible and remaining seated, facing the front, until it is time to leave the bus.
32. Who do I call if I have a concern or question?
Please call us at 521-1234. We will have knowledgeable bilingual staff on hand to answer your questions from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM - Monday through Friday on regular school days.
33. If I have a safety concern about my child’s bus driver, who should I contact?
If you have a concern regarding the driving ability of your child’s bus driver, the Sudbury Student Services Consortium should be contacted. When a concern is received by this office, the bus operator is contacted and the situation is investigated.
If you have a concern regarding student behaviour on the bus, you should contact the school. The bus is considered an extension of the classroom and the Principal of the school is responsible for the student behavior issues.
34. If my child has lost his bus riding privileges to and from school, may he/she catch another bus at a different bus stop?
No. When students lose their bus riding privileges, they are not allowed to ride on any bus. They are also not allowed to ride buses for field trips and to sporting events. Students are expected to attend school during the loss of riding privileges and parents/guardians are responsible for their transportation to and from school.
35. I do not think the bus stop location
is safe. What can I do?
Parents are requested to fill out the “Request For Stop Location Review” form on the website.
The stop location will be reviewed by a Transportation Planner and a decision will be made and communicated to the parent/guardian
The types of concerns typically raised by parents are : no sidewalks, traffic speed, no posted school zone signs, no cross walks, no crossing guards, no railroad crossing signs and/or construction. These potential concerns are under the jurisdiction of the municipality and Sudbury Student Services Consortium may not consider these types of situations as safety concerns in and of themselves.
Due to the volume
of requests for stop location reviews received in September, these
may only be reviewed in October.
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36. How long does it take for
transportation arrangements to come into effect?
It typically takes 2 school days to organize transportation arrangements once the Sudbury Student Services Consortium receives the information from the parent/guardian.
Routes are prepared prior to the start of the school year. Because
route arrangements have already been completed, altering
arrangements requires communication between the bus company and the
Sudbury Student Services Consortium and may impact other children
already scheduled on the vehicle. In light of the above, and due to
the volume of requests, during the months of August and September,
it can take up to 15 business days. You will be contacted with the
new arrangements once finalized.
37. We have a concern with the bus driver. Who do we contact to
remedy this situation?
Contact the Sudbury Student Services Consortium to discuss your concern.
38. How often do I need to use the school bus in order to keep my privilege?
Students are required to board the bus at least twice weekly in order to maintain their rider privilege.
Questions and Answers Regarding Inclement Weather
39. When will the Sudbury Student Services Consortium decide to cancel school bus transportation in bad weather?
The Sudbury Student Services Consortium will make every effort to announce the decision to cancel school buses before the start of the school day between 6:00 am and 7:00 am and as such, will forward announcements to the local radio stations and will post the information on the Sudbury Student Services Consortium’s website.
40. Why is the decision made so early?
The Sudbury Student Services Consortium is required to make the decision very early since many students who reside in outlying communities are picked up quite early. Some school bus drivers are on the roads as early as 5:30 am in order to arrive at their first stop on time.
41. In the event of inclement weather, should I send my child to school?
It is ultimately up to the parents/guardians to make the final decision to send their children to school during inclement weather.
42. Are school buses equipped with block heaters?
Yes, school buses are equipped with block heaters and are plugged in during the winter months.
43. Why is it so cold inside the school bus?
School purpose vehicles must comply with pollution emission restrictions. The emission restrictions provide a healthier ride to and from school; however, they reduce the engine’s ability to produce heat inside the school bus on very cold days.
44. When school bus transportation is cancelled in the morning is it always cancelled in the afternoon?
Most of the time when school bus transportation is cancelled in the morning it is also cancelled in the afternoon. On very rare occasions, when the safety of students can be assured, the afternoon transportation may run. For example, extreme cold in the morning and a significant change in weather before the end of the school day may permit school bus transportation in the afternoon.
45. How long should students wait for their school bus during inclement weather?
During extreme cold weather or severe weather storm conditions, we recommend that parents remind their children of possible vehicle (bus) breakdown or delays. Parents are advised to exercise their own discretion as to how long their children should wait for a school bus in inclement weather. Parents should ensure that their children are dressed appropriately and have a back-up plan in place to allow for unforeseen circumstances.
46. If parents choose to transport their children to school during a full day transportation cancellation, who is responsible in the afternoon?
If inclement weather prevents buses from doing their morning and afternoon routes, parents who choose to transport their children to school must be prepared to pick up their children at the end of the school day.
47. What is involved in making the decision to cancel school bus transportation?
The decision to cancel school transportation services involves a number of people and is never taken lightly. Safety Officers, School Bus Operators,
and Managers are on the roads as early as 4:00 am in order to report road conditions to the Sudbury Student Services Consortium by 5 am. The Consortium
also reviews Environment Canada’s Weather Warnings and investigates road conditions in different areas (i.e. Ministry of Transportation, Regional and
Provincial Police statements, etc.)
Once bus companies report their findings to the Consortium, a variety of other factors are taken into consideration prior to the decision being made:
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Sudbury Student Services Consortium
199 Travers St.
Sudbury, ON P3C 3K2
Telephone: (705) 521-1234 (Toll Free): 1-877-225-1196
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