Transporting Service Animals on School Buses
published on October 04, 2016 by Sonia Mastros
school bus safety, special needs student transportation, service animals on school buses
In recent years, many school districts have experienced an uptick in the amount of requests to transport service animals. In fact, some states now require this service by law. There are many reasons that a student may work with a service animal, usually a dog. These special animals help those with visual impairment, help to alert a student that they have a low or high blood sugar level, are about to have a seizure and even provide comfort during an anxiety attack.
Tips for Transporting Service Animals
When transporting service animals on school buses, flexibility is important. There may be additional time or special accommodations needed to honor this request. Here are some tips:
1. Plan in advance — As possible, plan in advance for the transportation of service animals. There may be a need for route changes or special training, so setting aside extra time to prepare is vital. Shorter ride times may be necessary. Route optimization software can assist with this planning of efficient routes.
2. Outline roles and responsibilities — All medical documentation should be reviewed, and drivers and administrators should have a clear understanding of the student’s needs and how to respond to both the student and the service animal, should an emergency take place.
3. Open the lines of communication — Not only should the needs of the student with a service animal be considered, but also those of the driver and other passengers on the bus. Ensuring that no other students have allergies or a fear of animals is an important part of the planning process, so open communication across multiple channels is necessary.
4. Review local and federal laws — Certain accommodations are required under ADA laws and many state and local guidelines. Administrators should review these requirements so that they're knowledgeable about what is or isn’t necessary when transporting service animals.
With some advanced planning, open communication and a clear understanding of requirements, school districts can safely and efficiently accommodate student's special needs.
To learn more about tools that can help your district transport special needs students safely and plan optimal routes, contact the transportation specialists at BusBoss.
Does your school district transport service animals? If so, please share with us some of the ways that you’ve made this process work. We appreciate your feedback.