For kids across the country, this is the first week of school (or second or third), and like most school years, there are bound to be a few hiccups while kids, teachers, and families get a new routine down pat.
But for one mom in North Carolina, a hiccup turned into a panicky situation when her 6-year-old son’s school accidentally lost him.
Tracey Williamson shared her story with Good Morning America (GMA), explaining that she went to pick up her son, Avery, at the Cumberland County Schools in North Carolina but there was one problem—no one knew where he was.
“I’m like, immediately, ‘So y’all lost my kid?’ So they’re like, ‘No, he’s not lost. He should be in the cafeteria,'” Williamson told GMA.
Despite being repeatedly assured that her son was safe and on school property, it turned out he had been mistakenly placed on a school bus headed for home.
Making matters worse, the bus had already left the school and eventually dropped him off all by himself.
The first day of school ought to be a memorable and exciting experience, but we’re betting that Williamson didn’t have this version of memorable in mind for her child, who was later found by a neighbor near his family home.
Williamson told GMA that two hours had passed before they were able to locate Avery.
“The principal assured me, ‘OK, because he’s 6, he’s not allowed to get off the bus.’ So I’m like, ‘OK, the bus driver originally said there were no kids on the bus,'” Williamson explained to GMA. “They’re like, ‘Well, maybe he fell asleep.’ The bus driver said, ‘No, I dropped that kid off.’ ”
The school district responded to ABC News in an official statement saying,
“Our top priority is the safety of our students. While we regret this situation happened, we are grateful that the student is safe. District and school officials are looking into this situation to determine exactly what happened and how we can prevent it from happening in the future.”
GMA noted that The American School Bus Council does not currently track how or when kids get on the wrong bus or are dropped off at the wrong place.
And while that may be worrisome for parents, school buses are still the single safest mode of transportation for American school kids.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), kids are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a school bus instead of traveling by car.
The NHTSA’s site has three great tips for parents to help keep kids safe.
- Arrive at the school bus stop five minutes early and stand at least six feet away from the curb. When appropriate and possible, parents should escort their kids to their stop to make sure they get on the bus.
- When boarding the bus, your child should wait until the bus comes to a full stop, the doors open, and the bus driver waves them on.
- Never walk closely around a bus, especially in the back where drivers can’t see you. Always steer at least 10 feet clear of the bus to keep everyone safe.
In addition, parents should make sure the school is clear about which bus their kids take each day as well as where their kids get dropped off.
There should always be an adult waiting for the kids at the drop-off point.
Let’s hope the Willamson family doesn’t experience any more school bus hiccups.