The request not to fall asleep during the bus ride might be reasonable, but not for kindergarten kids.
Schools have just reopened after the pandemic lockdown, and the safety of students in school buses has come up again, with Royal Oman Police charging a school bus driver and a supervisor with negligence.
There have been incidents of students being forgotten in the bus, but the rules are clear this time. Last week in Muscat, a child was left behind in the school bus unattended for hours after other students were dropped off, and the child had to be hospitalised.
This has once again kicked up the debate on who is to be blamed? Parents have once again raised concerns. The Observer spoke to some of the parents and members of the family with school-going children.
“I always think, what if that happened to my child? When I sign up my children in any school, I make sure to have a bus supervisor who is keen and responsible. Such accidents happen all the time, you cannot but worry and wonder if the situation would not happen to you.
School admin is responsible as well. A register of attendance should be made and monitored daily to check absences and the missing’’, said Zainab al Nasseri.
Mohammed bin Iqbal al Bulushi, a concerned father, said, “Children forgotten in the bus is a very serious situation. In the past, we have gone through stories of losing children because of this negligence and in other instances where children miraculously survive after the incident. Can this be called an accident? It is important to have supervisors to ensure the child safely arrives in the school compound and is later dropped off safely home.”
“I wish there were two people in the bus who will take the responsibility to make sure no child is left behind. My sister has her children going to school, and everyday, she speaks to the driver everyday requesting him to ensure the children reach safely at school premises and are brought back, ensuring they enter the home. Parents are concerned that about young drivers because of rash driving’’, pointed out Salma al Habsi, an observant aunt.
Many parents have also opted for private transportation for this very concern.
“I am not comfortable with school bus transportation. My children use personal transportation, and it gives me peace of mind. I know exactly where they have reached. In any case, I think they should take attendance before and after who is on the bus and who has not come that day. This is one major way to avoid mishaps’’, said Huwaida al Sheikhani.
Mothers are also requesting for women drivers.
“My sister goes by car and so do a lot of my school-going cousins’’, said Azzah al Mamari.
Parents are also requesting school authorities to have the supervisor of the bus to come out of the school bus as they drop off children in front of their home.
“Children can easily get distracted and lose their way’’, said a father.
And the permanent concern and request to children, “Please do not fall asleep in the bus.”