It's been a few days since the school bus tragedy claimed the life of Ronshay Dugans, but the scars are as visible as ever. And it may be some time before the students on the bus that day agree to get back on board.
While other children may never ride the bus again, some parents have already made other plans for them to get to and from school. Children are damaged from what they experienced last week. And parents are helping them through it by picking them up--even if they have to wait for a while at school.
Phealandrea Salter, who plans to pick her son up everyday said, "This morning on the way, he was saying he didn't want to ride the bus this afternoon. I've been trying to get him to understand that it can happen in the car just like it happened on the bus, but he was like, he doesn't want to ride and would pretty much feel safer if he rode with me."
An after school program at Apalachee Elementary was a refuge from the daily bus route and staff were there to comfort. Carina Copeland, the director of the program said, "I got them prepared that way, just saying if you see a child who needs a hug, whether it's a child who went to the Boys and Girls Club or it's one our own children--give them a hug and if we have more time or they need more time, let me know and I'll facilitate them."
The after school program for some parents will be a time of healing until their kids feel safe on the bus again, but others have made it a permanent arrangement. "I just want him to think that it's safe to drive." said Salter.
Copeland said she and her staff have noticed the children acting differently since the tragedy. "There are some kids who've hugged me today that usually don't hug me and say, 'I'm just not having a good day.' And I say, 'That's fine, sometimes we just don't have a good day."