tation from 2010 through 2012. “One of the best ways to prevent bullying is through communication. It is critical for the adult who is pulled in to a bullying situation to be an empathetic listener. That is the first step in building a trusting, respectful environment where bullying is less likely to happen.” Imagine the following scenario playing out at a school bus stop anywhere in the country. A school bus pulls up. As the children step up to board the bus, the school bus driver aims a digital thermometer at each child’s fore- head to take their temperatures. Fourth-grader “Suzy” registers 99.9 degrees Fahrenheit—a low-grade fever. The bus driver quietly and kindly tells Suzy she can’t ride the bus today and must return home. The other chil- dren don’t hear what the bus driver said, but it has not escaped their notice that Suzy was tested, turned away, and now is trudging back home. When she returns to the bus stop a few days later after testing negative for the virus, another student at the stop taunts her shouting, “Corona-head!” Given the likelihood that this or similar scenarios

may very well become reality across the country in the coming weeks and months—if they haven’t occurred already—at least in places where districts take temperatures prior to students getting to school, Robinson said it is prudent for student transporters to review best-practice bully management tips and techniques as well as helpful resource materials for school bus drivers and education support professionals.

Resources for Individuals Whether addressing professional roles or personal lives,

it’s critical for all people to manage their responses to stressful situations such as the COVID-19 crisis. “We’re in uncharted waters,” observed Saénz. “The

definition of anxiety is being in a new situation and not being sure you can cope with it. This triggers a fight or flight response, which we can use to channel our behav- ior in helpful ways or non-helpful ways. He explained that negative actions such as attacking, blaming or showing anger trigger the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can result in weight gain and other negative health consequences, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Dr. Saénz suggested engaging in positive actions to help manage the stress, such as exercising, yoga, relax- ation, deep breathing, and eating healthy. “These activities will help put us in a frame of mind where we can act in ways that are constructive and help

solve the situation,” he added. “We want to get to a place that is healthful so we can help ourselves and others to recover, heal and restore.” A wide variety of self-help websites, books, articles,

tutorials and webinars found online provide help- ful strategies to manage the stress and uncertainty of COVID-19 and to gauge one’s mental health. “Just getting back to school will be a relief, but it won’t

fix everything,” said Saénz, who was scheduled to speak to TSD Conference attendees in March before COVID-19 took a stranglehold. “We all need to be honest with our- selves and each other; and perhaps, more importantly, we need to be kind and loving to ourselves and each other.”

Resources for Organizations A number of federal, state and national organization

resources also exist to help education support profes- sionals such as school bus drivers prevent bullying in their communities. Training materials developed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students provide guidance on how bus drivers can effectively respond to and prevent bullying. Pub- lished in June 2011, the materials help bus drivers create a safe and respectful environment on their school buses. The state-of-the-art information, which includes a palm card for drivers as an easy reference tool for actions to take, provides ways to intervene in bullying behavior, de-escalate threatening behavior, and build a supportive bus climate to prevent bullying. Access to the materials is free of charge at The National Education Association sponsors Bul-

ly Free: It Starts With Me. Program highlights include toolkits, valuable research to inspire ideas for making schools a bully-free zone, action plans to create a more respectful environment, and related events and ac- tivities. All are designed specifically for teachers and education support professionals. The Pupil Transportation Safety Institute offers a

Bullying on the Bus training curriculum and teaching materials to school districts so local bus-driver instruc- tors can train drivers on how to respond to school bus bullying situations. “Kids sometimes get on the bus with a pre-existing

conflict with another student,” said Kathleen Furneaux, executive director of the Pupil Transportation Safety In- stitute and creator of the Bullying on the Bus curriculum. “That’s why we stress the importance of setting clear expectations for behavior on the bus and the importance of creating an environment that’s filled with respect.”

41% Readers who say they are concerned about an increase

in bullying tied to COVID-19. (Out of 212 responses to a recent magazine survey.) 23

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