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Bus safety drill surprises parent

The purpose of the bus safety drill is to show students how to safely evacuate the bus in case of an emergency, McMenimen said. Parents aren't notified of the drill beforehand because then students might not ride the bus that day, he said.

A Reichert Bus Service safety drill performed Sept. 8 had one parent concerned parents weren't notified of the drill beforehand.

In a Facebook message to the Brainerd Dispatch, the parent said the drill was performed at the Reichert Bus Service lot. The parent said the students were evacuated from the bus during the drill.

Kevin McMenimen, transportation director for Brainerd Public Schools, said the drill is performed three times a year, in September, October and April. State statute 123B.90, subdivision 2, requires a school bus evacuation drill at least once during the school year.

Reichert Bus Service performs three evacuation drills each year in order to reach each student who rides the route, McMenimen said. If a student rides the bus each year in kindergarten through fifth grade, the student might have participated in 15 evacuation drills, he said.

"It's not the first time that this has happened," McMenimen said.

At Forestview Middle School, there are two waves of buses picking up students in the afternoon, McMenimen said. Performing the drill at the school would hold up buses arriving behind the bus, he said, so the drill is performed at the Reichert Bus Service lot instead.

The Reichert Bus Service lot is spacious and traffic is controlled, McMenimen said. There are also Reichert staff members there in case something happens, he said.

"From a safety reason, that's why they do it over there," McMenimen said. "Not all buses can go over there, but when it's feasible, we do."

The purpose of the drill is to show students how to safely evacuate the bus in case of an emergency, McMenimen said. Parents aren't notified of the drill beforehand because then students might not ride the bus that day, he said. He compared it to a fire drill at school, when staff members know when the drill will happen but students don't know.

The drills are only performed in the afternoon and not in the morning, McMenimen said, so the drills don't make students late for school. It may make a student late for a dentist appointment after school, he said, but the safety drill is required by state law.

"What we're doing is for the safety of the kids," McMenimen said.

For elementary students, two drivers take a bus over to each school and go through the drill with the students, McMenimen said. One driver leads the evacuation while the other leads the safety talk.

Spenser Bickett

Spenser Bickett covers the Brainerd City Council and education. A native of the Twin Cities, Bickett attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he majored in journalism with a minor in political science. After graduation, he worked for the International Falls Journal as a staff writer before coming to Brainerd.

 
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