A mother in Singapore has shared her harrowing experience of her child being left unattended and locked inside a school bus for two hours.
Iris Law, the mother of 7-year-old shared the detailed story of what happened in a Facebook post & she called out “gross negligence” of Playfacto school in a lengthy post.
According to her Facebook post, the incident occurred on March 2, 2023, when the her daughter was picked up from school by the bus operator and taken to the Playfacto student care branch at Yishun OCC.
According to the mother’s account, her daughter was released from school at 1:30 pm and was picked up by the school bus at 1:45 pm.
However, when the child did not arrive at the student care by 3:45 pm, the student care received a call from the bus operator informing them that a child was left inside the bus but they did not know who the child was.
The student care then verified the child’s identity and advised the bus operator to call the parents. The mother received a call from the bus operator at 5:56 pm, informing her that her daughter had been left behind in the school bus and was on her way back to the student care.
The child arrived at the student care at 6:00 pm.
NO PROPER HANDOVER
Based on the sequence of events, the following points were concluded by the mother.
- Student care is not aware of the missing child for a period of 2 hours and only realise it upon a call from the bus operator.
a. Upon having a conversation with the student care, it was mentioned that there was a procedure for a representative at the school to count the total head count upon boarding the bus.
b. However, at the student care during off boarding, there is no proper handover of the students from the bus operator to the student care where the count of the students is left unverified.
c. The teacher in the student care who are receiving the students are also not aware of the actual number of students attending the student care for that day and merely receive the students without proper accounting for the actual numbers.
d. Within the student care, there is a teacher incharge and responsible for each class. For any absentees, the teacher in charge will be notified by the centre manager. In this case, there is no notification from the centre manager about the absentees of my daughter. However, the teacher in charge is not aware nor concern about the missing child.
- When the incident was realised, the student care did not take the initiative to call the parents but instead, tried to shunt the blame and asked the bus operator to call the parents instead.
a. In this case, I received a call from the bus operator that our daughter is on the way to the student care. There was a lack of details from the bus operator and the incidents was described in pieces.
b. I tried calling the student care’s POC but was told that she is on MC and not aware of what’s going on.
c. I managed to contact the student care and again the information was in pieces where student care did not give a clear detail of the incident.
d. I managed to talk to our daughter and get a clearer understanding of what happened.
Based on the above pointers, we are led to believe that there is a serious lapse of safety protocol within the student care.
What is particularly concerning about this incident is that the student care was not aware that a child was missing for a period of two hours.
The mother noted that there was a procedure for a representative at the school to count the total headcount upon boarding the bus.
However, during off-boarding, there was “no proper handover” of the students from the bus operator to the student care, leaving the count of students unverified.
Furthermore, the teacher in the student care who received the students was not aware of the actual number of students attending the student care for that day and merely received the students without proper accounting for the actual numbers.
Additionally, the teacher in charge of each class was “not notified” by the center manager about the absentees of the child, but was also not aware of the missing child.
The mother was particularly upset that the student care did not take the initiative to call the parents when the incident was realized, but instead, tried to shunt the blame and asked the bus operator to call the parents instead.
The mother’s account raises serious concerns about the safety protocol within the student care.
There is a clear lack of ownership, accountability, and safety awareness from the student care representatives who counted the students onboarding the bus, handing over the students to the student care without proper accounting for the handover, and the irresponsiveness of the teacher in-charge of the class who was not aware of the missing child.
In her Facebook post the mother warned other parents about the gross negligence of the student care and called for authorities to take the incident seriously and conduct a detailed investigation.
She said that she is grateful that her daughter was conscious when she was discovered on the bus, but the result could have been disastrous if she had been unconscious and left unattended on the bus for a prolonged period, leading to possible death or permanent mental trauma scarring her for life.
According to CNA, the mother Iris Law has withdrawn her daughter from PlayFACTO School and that her daughter was okay after the incident.
Playfacto said that that the seven-year-old had fallen asleep on the bus & the girl was not accounted for by the teacher or the bus driver who failed to check the bus upon returning to the depot.
“The student was quickly located and returned home unharmed and in good spirits. We have since implemented more stringent protocols for teachers and bus operators to prevent a recurrence,” said the student care centre when asked bt Channel News Asia.
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