The Summer has just begun, and the weather is just starting to heat up. Parents in New York have been acutely aware of this. Their children, who have special needs, are attending summer school and being transported there and back by busses that do not have air conditioning. This could be extremely dangerous.
Summer school can be a good thing for children who are struggling in school. In general, children tend to lose at least a little bit of what they learned in a particular school year over Summer vacation. Kids who have special needs are especially vulnerable to this kind of loss. Not only can they lose academic progress, but they also can experience a regression in social skills over the months when school is out.
Those losses can be prevented when a child who has special needs attends a Summer school program. Often, a child’s IEP will state that the school is required to have a Summer education program that will meet that particular student’s needs. Attending Summer school can help a child stay familiar with the “culture” of school, and to continue to have a regular routine. All of this can help the child be more prepared when it is time for the regular school year to begin again.
One would think that some of the gains made in Summer school would be wiped away if the child has to spend a really long time commuting to and from school on a hot bus that does not have the air conditioning running. Parents in New York are upset because their children have been coming home from school drenched with sweat.
Some of these special needs children have been on the bus for more than two and a half hours. The schools have contracted with private bus companies. Each bus driver is assigned to transport children to and from multiple schools within the district.
This means that children could be on the bus for extended amounts of time as they wait for other students who have been assigned to their bus to be dismissed from a school that gets out later then theirs did. Kids are going to be riding the bus for longer than typical because of the route that the drivers must take to pick up and drop off the students.
Parents have been complaining because they are fearful that their child could overhead, suffer from heatstroke, or even experience organ failure due to the heat. Many of these students have special needs that make it difficult, (or impossible), for the child to tell the driver that he or she is too hot. Parents want shorter bus routes, and they want the busses to have the air conditioning turned on. Complaints by parents have resulted in shortened routes for two children, but that is about all that has changed so far.
If your child will be attending Summer school, make sure that their bus has air conditioning, that is functioning, and that is being used. If your child keeps coming home covered in sweat, then this is a sign that the bus driver did not use the air conditioning. Cars, and busses, can get unbearably hot in the Summertime, and it simply isn’t safe for your child to experience that kind of heat.
Image by Thomas Devenishek on Flickr