Transportation

Bus Transportation

Higher Horizons offers bus transportation for Head Start children (3-5 years old) to and from the center; children must live within the limited bus service area and space must be available on the bus for children to have daily bus transportation. One Bus Driver and one Bus Monitor are assigned to each of the two buses. The Bus Monitors assist the Bus Driver, and accompany the children to ensure their safety while being transported.

Higher Horizons does NOT provide transportation services for Early Head Start children (6 weeks – 2 years old). EHS children are transported to and from the center each day by parents. This supports ongoing communication between the parents and teachers.

Bus Guidelines

The following guidelines apply to bus transportation provided by Higher Horizons

  1. A parent (or authorized designee/emergency contact person over the age of 16) must accompany the child at the bus stop (taking them to the bus stop, and meeting them at the bus stop at the end of the day).
  2. Higher Horizons does not authorize call-in changes to the bus schedule. Parents cannot call the school and request Higher Horizons hold their child at the center. If a parent cannot meet the bus, the parent must contact the emergency person to meet the bus, or have the child picked up before the bus leaves the center.
  3. If the parent is not at the bus stop at the scheduled time, the bus will not wait. The parent must have the child ready to go at the time specified by the bus driver. Parents are encouraged to arrive five minutes earlier than the scheduled time, to ensure the child is ready to board. The Bus Driver cannot wait for children to arrive at the bus stop. Higher Horizons has to make every effort to maintain the bus schedule.
  4. If an authorized adult is not at the bus stop to meet their child in the afternoon, the child will be brought back to Higher Horizons. The FEA will attempt to make contact with the parent of emergency contacts, for them to pick the child up from the school.
  5. Parents not meeting the bus will be required to sign a Documentation of Late Child form. After three (3) times of not meeting the bus at the scheduled time, a conference will be scheduled to discuss the concern with the parent. Higher Horizons bus services may be suspended.
  6. Repeated problems at pick-up or drop-off time may result in a conference with the Transportation Manager and could result in the child being denied transportation.
  7. If a child misses the bus, the parent may bring the child to school. The child can ride the bus to be taken home in the afternoon.
  8. At times, weather and traffic delays the bus. We ask that parents be patient and wait, as weather and traffic conditions are beyond the control of Higher Horizons.
  9. Children will not be released to persons not listed as an Emergency Contact, or persons who are not known by Higher Horizons. No child will be released to someone who the parent has not authorized in writing. Authorized persons must show proper picture identification to pick up a child.
  10. For safety reasons, the following items are not allowed on the school bus: candy, gum, money, toys, loose jewelry, animals, weapons, glass containers, food items, etc. The child should only have their backpack to carry.   Over-sized backpacks, backpacks with wheels, and luggage type backpacks cannot be stored under the bus seats. Parents should ensure the child has a standard size backpack to bring to school each day.
  11. Parents should check the child’s backpack daily for notices from the school, artwork, and other information that needs to be communicated to parents.
  12. Sick children should not be placed on the bus or brought to school. If a child requires medication, it must be brought to the school by the parents and given to the Health Services Manager with a Medication Administration Form.
  13. In the event of snow or inclement weather, Higher Horizons follows the Fairfax County Public Schools. If FCPS is one hour late, Higher Horizons will also be one hour late. So if the child is normally picked up at 7:05 a.m., the child will be picked up at 8:05 a.m. instead. Please see the Higher Horizons Snow Policy for additional information about school closings.
  14. The parent should notify the Bus Driver one week in advance if they plan to move, go on vacation or if the child will be away from school for an extended time.
  15. If a child no longer needs bus transportation, the parent should contact the Family Engagement Advocate. The FEA will notify the Teacher and the Transportation Manager.
  16. Bus Driver cell phone numbers are NOT provided to parents. Parents should contact the Transportation Manager at 703-820-2457, ext. 118 if they need to leave a message for Drivers or Monitors.Parents are encouraged to get to know the Bus Driver and Bus Monitor. Remember, bad weather, Bus Driver or Monitor Substitutes, and absences of other children can cause changes in bus pick up and drop off times.

Transportation for Field Trips

All Head Start classes take field trips to a variety of places during the school year. Higher Horizons will provide transportation to and from approved field trips. Parents will be given advance notice of field trips (including date, time and location); further, the parent MUST sign a permission slip for each field trip. If signed permission slips are not received from the parent, the child cannot go on the field trip.

Bus Safety – Safe Loading and Unloading of Children

Safety of the children is our number one  priority. When using bus transportation:

  1. Parents and caregivers should hold the child’s hand while getting on and off the bus.
  2. When crossing the street, parents must hold the child’s hand and escort them across the street.
  3. Bus Monitors will ensure all children are wearing seat belts.
  4. Children must stay in their seats, with seat belts secured, until the bus has come to a complete stop.
  5. Bus Drivers will provide license tag numbers to the Transportation Manager of any motorist that passes a signaled bus, which will then be reported to authorities.

Pedestrian Safety

Higher Horizons will conduct Pedestrian Safety Training for staff, parents and children every year. To assist Higher Horizons in ensuring the safety of all children, basic safety tips should be practiced, including:

  1. Look both ways before crossing the street, regardless if there is a marked pedestrian crosswalk.
  2. Cross at the corner of a street, at a traffic light, or a designated crosswalk.
  3. Being visible in bad weather or low-light conditions.
  4. Be aware of visible barriers that may block a pedestrian’s view (bicyclists, motorists, bushes and trees, etc.)
  5. Be aware of parked and passing vehicles.
  6. Do not wear dark colors at low-light times (early morning or early evening).

 Bus Drills and Evacuations

The Bus Driver and Bus Monitor conduct bus evacuation drills at least three times a year to teach children how to properly evacuate the bus. There will also be Teachers will also have classroom activities about bus safety. Parents are encouraged to talk to their child about bus safety.

Higher Horizons Head Start appreciates the cooperation of all parents in respecting the Transportation Guidelines. Continued support is most critical to ensure safe transport of bussed children to and from the school each day.

Questions about the bus service should be directed to the Transportation Manager at 703-820-2457, ext. 118.