School buses are one of the safest vehicles on the road and our staff is trained and responded quickly to ensure the safety of our students. Our driver, Shelly Hannon, responded rapidly and appropriately to the situation quickly removing students from the scene to ensure their safety while waiting for paramedics. Another bus was immediately dispatched so that we could secure our students with additional personnel to prepare for the reunification with parents.
We did identify some gaps in communications with families and internally with our responses, and we are working to rectify any gaps to streamline future communications around any sort of school-related incident. Additionally, student IDs are still in the process of being rolled out throughout our school communities, and while we are getting more accurate ridership data than we ever have in the past, it is still a work in progress. We are continually working with parents and students to ensure that the new IDs are being utilized. We are working with our families to streamline the process and ensure accurate data is inputted from student IDs. In the near future, the parent app for the student IDs will launch, allowing parents access to real-time information on their students bus and their whereabouts on the bus, and we look forward to sharing that information with you once it is available.
Please know that any gaps in our response are of utmost concern to me and I will personally work with staff to ensure that we rectify these issues. I know you will join me in thanking our Sunnyside Principal, Patrick Hyatt, and his team for their care and compassion in responding to this accident. Again, a special thank you to Shelly Hannon, our bus driver, who followed procedures to ensure the safety of our students.
Our thoughts also go out to the families that were involved in their personal vehicles. They too are part of the Sunnyside community, and we know you join us in our concern for them. We extend our deepest sympathy to the family who lost their child in this incident.
Students and staff will react in different ways to the death of one of our students. We should all expect and try to understand that there will be a variety of emotions and responses to what has occurred. The most important thing you can do is to be supportive and encourage an open expression of feelings. We recommend maintaining as normal a routine as possible. This recommendation has evolved from the district's experience with death in the past and the advice of mental health professionals from the community.
Special counseling services will be made available to students and staff this week, and will continue to be available longer if needed. For others resources, see the attached guide from the National Association of School Physiologists: Death and Grief: Supporting Children and Youth, or contact the following local and national mental health provider:
- Crossroads: 888-395-8437
- Axis Health: 970-247-5245
- Boys Town National Hotline: 800-448-3000
- Safe2Tell: 866-542-SAFE
While we are always working to identify ways we can improve our response and communications around incidents at school, we are appreciative of our partnership with our families, community and first responders to alleviate the stress and anxiety that is part of the recovery from an incident.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns or would like to discuss the situation further.