Rockland County bus drivers train to keep kids physically, mentally safe through new BOCES program

Bus drivers in Rockland County are getting new training that aims to keep kids physically and mentally safe. 
The drivers are the first and last person a student usually sees each school day. 
Joanne Thompson, director of school transportation for Rockland BOCES, is one of the program's many bus drivers who completed training to recognize students having mental health issues - and then help address any problems appropriately.
"It was phenomenal. Perfect timing. Well-needed especially after COVID and the pandemic we've just gone through," says Thompson. 
The new effort to equip bus staff with this knowledge is part of a $1 million federal Stop School Violence grant Rockland BOCES received from the Department of Justice.
It's a trend News 12 has reported on at various Hudson Valley area schools and on buses this past year.
Pamela Charles is teaching youth mental health first aid to her fellow BOCES colleagues.
"It puts us together as a collaborative so everyone in Rockland BOCES, even if you're not in the classroom, has an awareness of the population that we service," says Charles.