The Bus Stops Here
by Atticus W.
School dismissal has been in existence since school itself. Over the years it has changed dramatically, and perhaps not entirely for the better, especially after the virus.
As the decades passed, people became more hypervigilant about safety.. Bus stops became less frequent, and more parents drove their children to school than ever before. This put strain on the school, having to work out more complex bus routes and organizing drop off and pick up lines.
An eventual rhythm was reached, and the schedules began making these processes easier, but when the virus hit, it shook up the system, and it may be harder to recover from than we think.
The Duxbury Public School system has tried to configure a new route on the campus in order to minimize issues. Given conflicting schedules and multiple students to a family, that was all but impossible.
Duxbury High principal James Donovan referred to the prospect of implementing a new system as a noble goal.
“We have modified all our routines significantly, but this is a very difficult challenge.” Principal Donovan said during an interview.
However, as challenging as a complex system is, the real issues lie in the repercussions of when the system goes wrong. Over the course of the year, the Duxbury school system has gone from a hybrid schedule of students half in the building and half working remotely from their homes, to an in- person school experience after more than a year of absence.
There is now an issue of traffic, inconsistent parking, and multi-child families who have complicated schedules to support the academics as well as extracurriculars of their children across not only the high school but in Duxbury Middle School, and Alden Elementary School as well.
“People who have kids in middle school and high school at the same time have different schedules, and that causes problems,” said Mr. Donovan.
Todd Warmington is the assistant principal of Duxbury High School. In a short interview with him, Mr. Warmington has provided insight into a possible solution.
Children dismissed from their classrooms in close succession waiting in the hall or outside for their parents to collect them. Since the hybrid model has been replaced with a full in-person learning system, there have been 964 students at the end of every day waiting for transportation according to Mr. Warmington. According to the information available on the Duxbury High School website, there are several busses in operation with at least 20 stops each. The increase in bus stops means that it is more difficult to avoid traffic and plan routes.
Those who drive themselves to and from school end up getting stuck behind the busses leaving the campus, and with the number of busses exiting the school at the time, people can get stuck for long periods of time. This issue is compounded by new drivers in the 277 parking spots available to students, and the multi-student families with children who have varying dismissal schedules.
What is the solution to this parking lot fiasco? The answer seems to lie with the bus routes. There are 239 students that take the bus, a figure that is quite a bit smaller this year than previous years. However, there are many busses leaving the school every day at dismissal, and they are by no means filled to the brim with students.
The reason there are so many busses is because they all go to different locations, and stop at nearly every house with a child who takes the bus. They need several busses to get everyone home on schedule if there are so many stops. Simply put, less stops create less confusion and traffic.
After speaking with Mr. Warmington, he shed light on the issue with his personal experience.
“I worked in a different district before here, and this is how it was: You get dropped off here, you get picked up here. It was efficient.”
Breaking it down, if there are more busses, they each need a special route that takes the kids who live in the area home on time. The more stops you have, the longer the bus route has to be, so in order to shorten it, you employ more busses to cut down on the length of the route. However, that costs more, creates more traffic in the campus as well as on the street, and does not utilize the full bus space. If we have less bus stops along the streets of Duxbury, we will need less busses, with more kids in each. There will be a decrease in traffic on campus and on the street, and the school will save money in the long run.
Another issue to the multiple bus routes is the adherence to the schedules. The number of busses causes many traffic issues and some busses are consistently late.
“Some busses have never arrived on time,” Principal Donovan explained.
This system of busses means many students show up to their classes late, and receive tardy notices, which can lead to detention.
A single, or smaller number of bus stops, could solve the problem.