In the event that a child transported by Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region, Inc. is deemed lost, everything must be done to find the student quickly and calmly. A series of different steps for locating the child must be followed in order to minimize delays and pressure on the people involved.
Responsibilities of STSWR
Have access to emergency phone numbers for all students from the WRDSB and WCDSB Trillium databases. STSWR must be able to provide the school bus operator with emergency phone numbers for all students.
Responsibilities of the School Bus Operator
Have access to BP Web for phone numbers provided by STSWR. Contact STSWR if a parent/guardian is unable to be reached. Other emergency contacts may be available.
Steps to Take When a Child is Declared Missing:
Responsibilities of the School Principal or Designate:
- Contact the person in charge when the students boarded the bus. Have the contact check whether the missing child did indeed get on the bus;
- If answer to 1 is yes, ask the student’s teacher, or the person in charge when the students boarded the bus, to provide an accurate description of the child’s clothing that day and forward this information to the school bus operator and STSWR;
- If answer to 1 is no, ask the school staff to check the school premises, including the washrooms and schoolyard, to verify the child has not been inadvertently left at the school.
- Ensure that the school bus operator and STSWR have the correct contact numbers to locate parents and guardians;
- In the event that the child could have been dropped off mistakenly at a different bus stop, the school will provide the school bus operator with the names of the child’s friends who reside in the area;
- Remain at school and stay in constant contact with the school bus operator and STSWR until the child is found; and
- If the child is found, immediately contact STSWR and the school bus operator notifying them that the search can be stopped.
Responsibilities of the School Bus Operator:
- As soon as a child is declared missing, contact the driver of the route to confirm whether the child got on their bus. Find out which stop the child got off at and the approximate time they were dropped off;
- If the driver cannot confirm that the child was on the bus, contact all route drivers serving the student’s school to determine whether the student may have boarded the wrong bus;
- Contact the school immediately so that the staff can check whether the child is at school;
- Contact STSWR to inform the staff that a child is deemed missing;
- Contact the family to find out whether the child is at home or whether someone else came to pick up the child from school without informing the appropriate authorities;
- If the child is found at school, notify the parents that their child is still at school and that they must pick him/her up;
- If the child cannot be found after the bus, school and neighbourhood searches have been completed and contact calls have been made to the school and parent/guardian, police need to be notified immediately (911). Their instructions are to be followed at that time;
- If practical, order the bus driver to remain wherever they are, and send a second bus to finish the route. Notify the parents/guardians of the remaining students that their children will be late;
- If it is not practical for the bus driver to remain in location, ask them to finish their route and stay in contact with their dispatcher. They should remain available after the route is completed;
- Ask all other bus drivers to keep the radio lines clear and to use them only in case of an emergency;
- Speak calmly to the bus driver and explain the procedures to follow. Bear in mind that the students aboard the bus can hear the conversation. Keep a calm tone of voice to avoid creating panic aboard the vehicle;
- Ask all of the bus drivers in the area to remain available after their routes, if need be;
- In the event that the child was dropped off by mistake at the wrong bus stop, ask the school if the child has a friend who lives in this area and contact the friend’s family, if applicable;
- Send someone, preferably by bus so that he/she will be easily identified, to retrace the trip in the reverse direction, from the point where the child was deemed missing. Examine the surroundings at each bus stop;
- Maintain contact with the school principal, STSWR and the police during the search;
- Immediately notify the school principal, STSWR and the police if the child is found, so that the search can be called off;
- Submit a Kindergarten Incident form to STSWR within 24 hours of the incident.
Responsibilities of the Bus Driver:
- As soon as a child is reported missing, immediately notify the school bus operator’s dispatcher by radio. Give the exact location of the bus;
- 2. Move the vehicle to a safe place and wait for the dispatcher’s instructions. Bring the vehicle to a complete stop and keep the radio transmitter turned on;
- Ask the students to remain in their seats and inspect the bus, looking under the seats, to determine whether the child is still on the bus;
- Ask the remaining students for any information on the missing student:
- Was he/she really aboard the vehicle?
- Did he/she get off before his/her stop?
- What was he/she wearing?
- If the child is found at school, the bus driver shall inform the parent/guardian waiting at the bus stop and ask him/her to contact the school principal in order to retrieve the child;
- Remain calm when speaking to the children aboard the vehicle and, if applicable, when speaking to the parent or guardian who was waiting for the child at the bus stop; and
- Nobody, including parents/guardians is to board the bus. No remaining students will be allowed to exit the bus, unless directed by the dispatcher. Exceptions will be made for reasons of safety or emergency; or if directed to continue the run.
Responsibilities of STSWR:
1. Maintain contact with the school bus operator, the school and, if applicable, with the police and parents or guardians, until the child has been found.