Severe Weather and School Buses

Tornadoes pose a dangerous and even deadly threat especially if you are not taking cover in a sturdy building. Most of us know that a car is not a safe place to be during a tornado. The same is true for a school bus.

Just as schools need to have a severe weather plan for kids in classrooms, they need one for their children when they are traveling on those big yellow buses. To find out what precautions are taken, I sat down with Mike Jones, Director of Transportation for the Lufkin Independent School District, one of the largest school districts in East Texas. He told me, "First thing we would do is determine how bad the weather is going to be. If we have gotten to the point where we have a tornado warning, then we would hold the kids at school."

We also have to take a look at the worst-case scenario. What would happen if a bus driver with a bus full of children found himself or herself directly in the path of a tornado? When i asked Jones this, he said, "There should be a shelter -- maybe a church or school -- maybe not the school they are carrying their kids from but another that would along the route. Some place to get the kids in there. If there is not a designated shelter available and a tornado was sighted and coming, the kids should be evacuated and gotten into a low lying area such as a ditch along side the road."

Whether on the bus or in school, administrators, principals, and teachers take extra steps every year to make sure East Texas school children are safe if severe weather were to threten when those kids are under school care.

While many schools do have a severe weather plan for their buses, we found that was not the case for all schools in East Texas. We surveyed schools all across the area and received reponses from 40 different schools. Thirty percent of those principals surveyed said they did not have or did not know of a severe weather plan for their buses.