Sec. 126-92-10 - General Operating Procedures

§ 126-92-10. General Operating Procedures

10.1. The operator shall wear a seat belt as designed anytime the vehicle is in motion.

10.2. Transportation employees are professionals and should conduct themselves in a professional manner, per 126 CSR 162, Policy 5902, Employee Code of Conduct (Policy 5902), section 4.2. Additionally, all operators and aides shall wear non-skid shoes. Heels of more than two inches in height, sandals, clogs, flip flops, open-toed or open-heeled shoes, and wooden-soled shoes shall not be permitted.

10.3. The operator shall not knowingly operate an unsafe bus and shall perform all inspections and duties set forth in section 24 of this policy and any additional inspections and duties required by the county board.

10.4. The county board shall provide each operator a revised copy of this policy and a tentative bus schedule, by the first day of school.

10.5. The operator shall not permit any unauthorized person to occupy the operator's seat or tamper with the bus at any time.

10.6. The operator shall observe all speed limits. Truck speed limits apply to buses. Adverse weather conditions require reduced speeds.

10.7. Operators shall use proper signals as required by law when operating a bus.

10.8. The operator shall not leave the bus when it is running and has students on board unless the bus is equipped with a lift and safety interlocks for FMVSS 403 and 404 lift equipment, and the operator is assisting the loading or unloading of a student with the lift.

10.9. When the operator leaves the bus, due to an emergency, installation of tire chains, emergency drills, etc., the emergency brake shall be engaged, and the keys shall be in the possession of the operator with the exception referred to in section 10.8 of this policy.

10.10. The operator shall not drive the bus in reverse while at the school or while loading or unloading students except in an emergency. The operator shall use the assistance of a school official or another adult when the situation requires such a movement.

10.11. The operator shall use the route as specified by the county director unless an emergency authorized by the county board necessitates a change. The county director shall conduct a "Potential Hazard Audit" annually prior to the first day of school.

10.12. All bus schedule changes made by the county director shall be communicated to the parents and students as quickly as possible.

10.13. In case of an accident or a mechanical failure while students are being transported, the operator shall provide for the safety of the students and request assistance as soon as possible.

10.14. The operator should only disengage the clutch while making a complete stop or shifting gears.

10.15. The operator shall conduct and supervise emergency exit drills at least twice in a school year, according to Federal Highway Safety Standard No. 17, Section E (1), and three times annually for prek students.

10.15.a. Drills are to be conducted on county/school property whenever possible. If drills are conducted on non-school property, care shall be taken to provide for the safety of students.

10.15.b. School officials shall assist in the drills when conducted on school property.

10.15.c. The drills shall include students exiting through the front and rear door and instruction on the proper use of exit windows, roof hatches, and other instruments used to assist with emergencies.

10.15.d. Wheels shall be chocked during the drill.

10.15.e. Upon completion, the date of the drills shall be reported to the county director.

10.16. Signage, including but not limited to advertisements, banners, photos, stickers, and posters, except those approved by the WVDE, is not permitted to be displayed in or on buses.

10.17. Only certified service animals are permitted on a bus.

10.18. Only property of students, county board property, or school property may be transported on a bus.

10.19. Baggage and other items transported in the passenger compartment shall be stored and secured so that the aisles are kept clear and the door(s) and emergency exit(s) remain unobstructed at all times.

10.20. Fireworks, ammunition, explosives, lighter fluid, aerosol cans, other highly flammable materials, and all other deadly or dangerous weapons, are prohibited.

10.20.a. Aerosol cans such as windshield deicer shall be stored in an outside storage box on the bus. Properly labeled spray bottles may be stored inside the bus but must be stored out of sight in a secure location.

10.21. Medical support equipment and special adaptive/assistive equipment such as oxygen bottles may be transported as follows:

10.21.a. oxygen bottles should be no larger than 38 cubic feet of liquid oxygen and 22 cubic feet for compressed gas.

10.21.b. tanks and valves should be located and positioned to protect them from direct sunlight, bus heater vents, or other heat sources. Stationary tanks shall be properly mounted with OEM approved mounting devices.

10.21.c. oxygen bottles of a non-stationary type, medically prescribed for a student by a physician, shall be in a padded carrier designed for personal use and protection and shall be in the possession of the passenger. Documentation of prescribed need should be on file.

10.21.d. operators and aides shall be trained in the proper transportation of special adaptive/assistive equipment such as oxygen bottles.

10.21.e. if compressed gas is in use, a placard shall be installed and readily visible.

10.22. Bus Safety Equipment.

10.22.a. Approved bus directional triangles shall be carried on each bus and used as a warning device during emergencies.

10.22.b. Bus flashing lights (four-way hazard lights) should be used only in emergencies and railroad crossing procedures.

10.22.c. Link-type bus tire chains shall be used when emergency weather conditions dictate or when directed by the county director. Operators shall be trained in the installation and use of chains. Automatic tire chains shall not take the place of regular chains.

10.22.d. Fire extinguishers shall be charged, available for use in all buses, and inspected daily. Inspection tag shall be initialed monthly per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 10-2018.

10.22.e. First aid/body fluid cleanup kits and belt cutters shall be readily available in the bus. Belt cutters shall be securely mounted, within reach of the operator, and labeled if in a compartment and not clearly visible.

10.22.f. A strobe light shall be used in inclement weather only where visibility of the bus is limited. Rain, snow, sleet, fog, etc. are all considered inclement weather. Nighttime shall not be considered limited visibility.

10.23. General Reports.

10.23.a. At least annually, operators shall be monitored and evaluated for performance by the county director/supervisor. Evaluations should include verbal discussions with the operator, ride with the operator, review of bus video, or any combination thereof.

10.23.a.1. A bus video may be reviewed at any time by the State Director, WVDE bus inspector, WVDE investigator, WVDE and/or county attorney, county director, and the county superintendent for reasons including but not limited to: safety violations or misconduct, violation of policies and procedures, operator evaluation, periodic review of student conduct, etc. Viewing of the bus video for student misconduct shall meet the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) regulations. The bus video may be viewed by the operator with permission or consent of the county director or designee approved by the county superintendent.

10.23.a.2. County directors/supervisors who perform evaluations shall be trained in proper evaluation procedures.

10.23.b. Operators are to compile monthly reports and submit them to the county director no later than three working days following the last day of the school month.

10.23.c. The county director shall submit state reports through the West Virginia Education Information System (WVEIS) no later than ten working days following the last day of the school month.

10.23.d. The Bus Fleet Report shall be submitted through WVEIS by June 30th of each year.

10.23.e. All students transported to and from school shall have their transit times entered into WVEIS by the end of the second month of school and updated as necessary.

10.23.f. Road hazards are to be reported immediately to the county director.

10.24. Accident Reports.

10.24.a. A bus accident is to be reported to the county director when the bus touches another vehicle, person, or object, or leaves a mark and/or causes damage.

10.24.a.1. A verbal report is to be given by the operator as soon as possible and a written report provided on the next business day to the county director. Bodily injuries should be reported as per county board procedure or policy.

10.24.b. All bus accidents involving bodily injury, a fatality, extensive property damage, or structural damage to a bus shall be reported immediately via phone by the county director to the State Director. A written report is to follow to the State Director within one week.

10.25. Cellular Phones and Other Electronic Devices.

10.25.a. The use of ear pieces, ear buds, headsets, cellular phones, or other portable electronic devices, even those equipped with hands-free technology, is prohibited for operators while operating the bus and by aides while students are present.

10.25.a.1. Global Positioning System (GPS) units used on curricular and extra-curricular trips are prohibited unless audible only or managed by a county employee other than the operator.

10.25.b. The use of cellular phones while supervising the loading and unloading of students is prohibited.

10.25.c. If communication with the county board's transportation department is necessary, the bus must be stopped in a location where the bus can safely remain stationary.

10.26. County Two-Way Radios.

10.26.a. County two-way radios shall be used to conduct transportation business only. Any use that could interfere with emergency communication shall be prohibited.

10.27. Safe Drivers' Programs.

10.27.a. The WVBE encourages county boards to support operator safe drivers' programs such as those listed in section 25.4.

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