SIKESTON -- As several area schools begin classes next week, motorists are urged to be on the lookout for students to be popping up on street corners again.
Throughout the summer, school transportation officials like Sikeston R-6 transportation director Randy Thompson have been mapping out the upcoming school year's bus stops.
"We go through and take a good look at where all the bus stops are and where the concentration of kids live," Thompson explained. "We make sure the bus stops are efficient and convenient for everyone."
Things like taking bus stops off of busy intersections and not putting three and four schools at the same bus stops are things the transportation department must consider, Thompson said.
So when classes for Sikeston R-6 begin Thursday, bus drivers will be prepared to travel their routes.
"All of the buses are ready to go," Thompson said. "I had a meeting with bus drivers on Tuesday and we went over all of the routes and safety things and loading and unloading went over traffic and all of the things involved in driving bus to and from schools."
Schools also make a point to document policies. Bus rules are cited in student handbooks, Thompson noted. The kindergarten goes over the rules, and all other schools address it -- whether in classroom or some type of address at the beginning of the school year, he said.
New Madrid County R-1 transportation director Jim Bates said the district sends out bus rules to parents prior to school starting.
"We also take all of our kids out on the school bus the first week of school and talk of what to do and not to do," Bates said.
For example, at Matthews Elementary in Matthews, teachers will go over a series of rules with their students, but parents are also asked to go over the rules with their children, Bates said.
"Parents need to talk to show their children this is where the bus stop is and where we leave and take the child out and show them the safest way for a child to travel back and forth," Thompson explained.
Doors will open for the new school year Wednesday at New Madrid County R-1 schools, and Bates reminded other motorists to be aware of the reemergence of school buses.
"When red lights are flashing, we've got children on the ground moving, and they've got to get their vehicle stopped," Bates said.
A school resource officer for New Madrid County R-1 will also be in place to monitor the highways most traveled, Bates added.
Both Thompson and Bates encourage parents who are unsure of their child's bus route to contact their school. "We're transporting most precious cargo in the whole world and patrons have to be very conscious of the people out there," Bates said. "The last thing I want to do is have a major accident with anything."
While bus drivers must know the rules, it's also important for parents and students to learn the safety precautions, too. The New Madrid County R-1 School District offers the following bus safety rules:
-- Be on time at the bus stop. Avoid running to catch the bus because you may slip and fall under the bus. While waiting for the bus, stay clear of the roadway to avoid being hit by passing cars.
-- Never run to or from the bus.
-- Wait for your driver to signal before you cross the road. Always cross at least 10 feet in front of the bus.
-- Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before you try to board the bus or before you try to get off of the bus.
Stay in your seat until the bus reaches a complete stop.
-- Do not yell or shout on the bus. Excessive noise can distract the driver and could result in an accident. -- Always obey the bus driver.