Citing safety, the letters also discourage the use of pencils or "writing tools for homework" as they can become "projectiles" in a "moving vehicle."
Signed by Framingham Superintendent of Schools Stacy Scott the letter suggests parents encourage their child(ren) to use the seat belt on the buses and to teach child(ren) how to buckle and unbuckle themselves, as "they will be expected to use the seat belt on their own."
Scott writes: "As a district we are continually working to make your child's bus ride as pleasant and safe as possible. To accomplish this goal, we need your help. We are asking students to use the seat belts provided on the bus. Keeping students seated keeps them safe and reduces behavioral conflicts."
A handful of parents, who contacted Framingham Patch, expressed concerns about the lap seat belts. They cited studies and reports that indicates that these type of belts could cause serious injury in a serious crash.
Lap belts do not improve passenger safety on school buses and instead can put riders at high risk of severe or fatal neck injury, according to one report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A couple of parents had concerns about a young child being able to unbuckle him or herself in a serious crash and if a bus driver would have time to unbuckle every child who couldn't unbuckle themselves in an emergency.
"I worry about my child being able to get out of the bus in a serious crash, if the drivers has to unbuckle a dozen or more kids," said one mother of a first grade Wilson Elementary student.
One parent questioned the specific mention of homework on the bus. She said her daughter is on the bus for more than 30 minutes to school and more than 30 minutes home, and she likes to do some of her homework while on the bus.
"The bus driver has told her she can't use her pencil, and can only read a book on the bus," said the fourth grade parent, who did not wish to be identified.
Framingham Public Schools has a contract with Durham School Services for its buses. Drivers are hired by Durham.
The letter from Superintendent Scott does not prohibit the use of pencils or bar students from doing homework on the bus, but encourages students to read on the bus.
"We know that it is important for some students to get homework done during the bus ride. We encourage students to read on the bus, where possible," writes Scott. "As parents/guardians we are aware of how items in a moving vehicle can become projectiles and if children are not using writing tools for homework, we encourage them to keep them in their backpacks during their bus ride."
Parents: We want to hear your thoughts on Dr. Scott's letter.
- Do you think children should use seat belts on school buses?
- What are your thoughts about homework on the bus?