For eligible bus riders: please register to ride for kindergarten and first grade

A Message from Transportation

Dear kindergarten and first grade families who are eligible riders,

We are gearing up to welcome kindergarten into our schools on Nov. 2 and first graders on Nov. 12. We are excited to have students back on our buses and in our schools.

In order to better prepare for our student riders, mitigate risks and serve our families, we are asking that all families let us know whether your children intend to ride the bus this year. Please fill out this digital form.  We would appreciate this information by Monday, Oct. 26 to most effectively finish building our bus routes. You will need your child’s Alpha ID (on the form it currently says student ID number but use Alpha key.) You can find this ID within Skyward Family Access, or in the email you should have received on Oct. 22. (The first email on Oct. 21 gave a 10 digit ID that is incorrect for getting into the form.)

The alpha key is the first five letters of your student’s last name, the first three letters of their first name, followed by three numbers (i.e. 000). If your child’s last name is less than five letters long, use spaces. Here’s an example of what an alpha key looks like for a Jane Smith:  SMITHJAN001.  

 

Riding safe

Safety has always been our top priority in transporting students, and due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, we’re adding additional protocols for staff and students. Please take time to review these requirements with your child.

  • Students who ride the bus to school will wear a mask.
  • When boarding, students should stand six feet apart as they wait to enter.
  • All riders will use the hand sanitizer mounted at the front door, and then proceed to their assigned seat.
  • Please dress warmly. When weather permits, the windows and ceiling vents will be opened to increase air flow.
  • When it is time to exit the bus, students will be directed to leave their seats one at a time in order to maintain distance.

Bus routes

Check our Transportation webpage on Oct. 28 and click on “Infofinder Bus Route Locator” for the most current bus stop locations and times. Please double-check your bus stops, routes, and/or times, as they may have changed since last year. We recommend families check routes online on Oct. 28 and again just before the first day of school.

Will routes change?

After the first few days of school in November, some routes and times may change to better serve our students as we make adjustments based on the number of riders. Changes, if any, will be updated daily on the Infofinder website. We will inform schools and riders of significant changes (i.e. earlier pickup times or a pick-up/drop-off change of more than 10 minutes) after the first day of school. Please make sure your family’s contact information is updated in Skyward to receive alerts about bus route changes, along with other important and helpful school information. To update, follow the instructions at bellinghamschools.org/skylert.

 

Some frequently asked questions for new riders

What if my child has never ridden the bus? Who will help them?

Bus drivers will help kindergartners and other young children learn to ride the bus. If you plan to greet your child, it is very important that you or a designated adult be at the bus stop a few minutes before the drop-off time.

Here is a video that shows typical safety procedures for riding the school bus. If your child is a new bus rider, it is a good resource to review with them. Please note it has not been updated for COVID protocols such as hand sanitizer and mask-wearing, but it is still accurate for other safety needs.

What if I am not able to meet my child at the bus stop?

If a parent/guardian is unable to meet their child at the bus stop for drop-off, it is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to teach their child what steps to take, such as walking in groups with other children or going to a neighbor’s home.

Who makes the determination if my child could walk home from the bus stop on their own?

Bellingham Public Schools is unable to assume responsibility for a child who is dropped off at a designated bus stop after school when a parent/guardian is not present. It is not recommended, implied or otherwise, that kindergartners or other young children are capable of attending to their own needs for extended periods of time. However, it is up to the parent/guardian to decide the maturity level of their child and to make childcare arrangements when the parent/guardian is unable to meet their child at the bus stop.

If a parent/guardian is unable to meet their child at a bus stop, and the child feels insecure about leaving the bus, then that child will be transported back to either your child’s school or a designated school nearby.  Please call transportation at (360) 676-6546 for assistance in connecting with your child.

Thank you and we hope you have a great return to school!

Rae Anne Thon
Director of Transportation