As reported in the news, a tragic accident occurred at a kindergarten in Shizuoka Prefecture, where a 3-year-old child was left on the morning shuttle bus and died of heat stroke.
We pray for the repose of the souls of the child who lost her life, and we see this as an opportunity to reconsider the importance of creating a safe system and the possibility of human error as a childcare facility that takes care of children’s lives.
We understand that many of you are concerned about the repeated reports of accidents on the school bus.
To give parents some peace of mind, here are some of the safety measures that Knock Knock Preschool is currently implementing.
- About the accident at that kindergarten in Shizuoka Prefecture
- Measures to prevent being left behind during pick-up and drop-off
- Other safety measures for transportation services
- Education for drivers (training for new employees, etc.)
About the accident at that kindergarten in Shizuoka Prefecture
As a matter of course, our preschool also conducts roll call at pick-up, checks for forgotten items after pick-up and disinfection. From the news reports, it appears that several factors may have contributed to this accident, including misconfirmation and miscommunication.
However, our main concern is that the childcare staff did not contact the parents because they assumed that the student, who was not in the school, must have been absent.
The news report gave the excuse that this was due to occasional unannounced absences of some preschoolers. Perhaps the school routinely tolerated unexcused absences.
Advance notice of absence
There should never be a situation where a child who should be at the preschool is not there without a call from the parents.
In our school system, parents/guardians are asked to notify us of absences in advance. Therefore, if a student is absent without notification, the staff will not assume that the student is absent without permission, and the head office will always confirm attendance with the parents.
We will continue to ask parents to notify us of their children’s absence in advance. We will also continue to make every effort to ensure the safety of children by maintaining a good communication system between the preschool and their parents.
Measures to prevent being left behind during pick-up and drop-off
We do not pick up a large number of students at a fixed meeting point, but rather pick up each student individually at his/her home or at the kindergarten or preschool he/she attends. In addition to preventing students from being left unattended in their cars, several safety measures are in place to ensure student safety.
Below are some of the measures we are taking to prevent children from being left behind in cars.
1. Conducting Daily Drivers Meetings
Since the start of the transportation service, we have held daily drivers’ meetings with all the drivers who will be driving that day to raise safety awareness.
To ensure that there are no errors in confirming absent or substitute students and picking up students on the same day, a meeting is held at 1:00 p.m. every day between the headquarters staff and all transportation service staff to confirm the route, number of students, etc. before the start of the service.
2. Arrival and departure time record keeping
Pick-up and drop-off will be conducted according to the transportation schedule. At the time of boarding and disembarking, the transportation service staff records the “time of pick-up” and “time of arrival at Knock Knock” to keep track of each student’s movements.
3. Seat Belt Detachment
Upon arrival at the destination, the transportation staff will unbuckle each student’s seatbelt one by one (preschoolers). We do not allow preschoolers to unbuckle their seatbelts by themselves. If a student unbuckles his/her own seatbelt, we will caution the student.
The original purpose of this system is to ensure safe travel and operation of the train, but it also serves as a measure to prevent students from being left behind in the car by ensuring that they do not leave their seats or crawl under the chairs.
4. How to Confirm Absence of Transportation Students
If a student is not present at pick-up time, the pick-up car will leave when it is time to depart. The following procedure is used to confirm absence at that time.
5. Confirmation of attendance at the beginning of class
Our staff members look at the students and check them off on the day’s student list to confirm their attendance.Students who do not use the transportation service are checked as well, and we always check with the parents if it is unclear whether the student is absent or tardy.
6. Checking for items left behind in the car & disinfection work
After dropping off the student, the driver checks the vehicle for any items that may have been left behind. The driver then either heads to the next pick-up location or disinfects the interior of the vehicle.
As is already the policy, we will once again take measures to ensure that drivers do not leave our students unattended in the cars.
Other safety measures for transportation services
Accompanying students on public roads is limited to two students per staff member.
School buses are parked as close to the school entrance as possible.
As a safety measure for transportation from the vehicle to the school building, a maximum of two students per staff member will be escorted to the school entrance by a staff member walking with them on public roads.
Car doors will be opened and closed only after the transportation staff confirms the safety of the car. Doors cannot be opened from inside the car (child locks).
Preschool children will use a child safety seat. In addition, seat belts will be buckled by the driver or a staff member assisting with pick-up and drop-off.
Compliance with traffic rules
Our drivers are required to comply with traffic regulations, including legal speed limits.
All pick-up and drop-off vehicles undergo a 3-month periodic inspection at our affiliated dealership. In addition, every day before the start of pick-up and drop-off, the driver checks the vehicle for worn tires, brakes, etc. to ensure safe operation.
When picking up or dropping off preschool children, the children are handed over to the person carrying the parent ID, regardless of whether or not the driver and parents have met. Please be careful to manage your parent ID.
Driver Aptitude Tests
Once a year (for all staff involved in pick-up and drop-off), drivers take an aptitude test as an opportunity to review their driving. The results are also checked at headquarters to confirm each driver’s aptitude.
Education for drivers (training for new employees, etc.)
Drivers are not dispatched or otherwise outsourced, but are all exclusive Knock Knock drivers employed by our company.
Simply being a good driver or knowing the roads well does not make you a knock-knock driver. We hire people who fully understand the importance of the responsibility of driving with children on board, and who can put the safety of the children first.
We have provided information on our current safety measures as described above, but we believe that safety measures are like “living creatures” and are constantly evolving. It is important to re-evaluate and improve our system whenever we encounter dangerous situations in our daily work, hear about accidents at other preschools in the news, or receive advice from parents.
Most importantly, it is important for staff to share the understanding that no matter how good the system is, “no system is 100% safe. Even childcare staff are human beings. Regardless of their position or experience, they need to recognize that they and other staff members may make mistakes, so they must actually see and check the children’s safety, talk to each other, and keep the basics of childcare operations in mind.
In order to provide both English-language education and excellent childcare, our preschool has more than twice the number of childcare staff as required by the national standard (the standard for guidance and supervision of unlicensed childcare facilities). We use a small car that can accommodate 6 to 12 children to pick up children from their homes, and do not use medium or large size cars. While we strive to create an environment where we can pay more attention to each child, it is our staff who ultimately protect the children’s safety. We will always keep this common sense in mind as we continue to interact with the children.
Fortunately, since its opening in 2013, Knock Knock Preschool has not had a single serious accident that would have sent a child to the hospital. This is not only due to the efforts of the preschool staff, but also to the cooperation of the parents. We will continue to work closely with parents to ensure the safe operation of the preschool. Thank you for your cooperation.