Police say there were four buses carrying 179 third-grade students and 19 staff members from School No. 11 in Passaic to Museum Village in Monroe, New York.
The buses were on Route 17 in New Jersey when one encountered debris in the road, prompting the driver to stop short to avoid it. That apparently caused the bus behind it to rear-end the first bus just before 10 a.m.
"Two school buses that were transporting students upstate to for a Orange County field trip had been in an accident involving debris in the roadway," Mahwah police Sergeant Mike Blondin said.
John Nazario was on the first bus.
"There was a bag in the road," he said. "So the bus I was in, the bus driver put the brakes on, and the bus behind us hit us."
Maria Perez was on that bus.
"We crashed into another bus in front of us," she said. "And then I went down and I hurt my hand."
Police and emergency medical teams from Mahwah and surrounding areas were immediately on the scene.
The two buses involved in the accident had 89 students and nine teachers and staff on board, and 17 students and one staff member were transported to Valley Hospital. They were said to have only minor injuries, and none were expected to be admitted.
"All injuries are minor, I would even call them very minor," hospital spokesperson Ken Parker said. "I've seen a couple of students with a couple of ice packs on wrists."
The rest of the students were evaluated in the parking lot of a Burger King before being returned to School No. 11.
Passaic Mayor Hector Lora and school superintendent Pablo Munoz praised the efforts of all emergency personal and the Mahwah police for their efforts.
"And all of the teachers who made sure our children remained calm," Lora said. "Obviously, our number one priority was the well being of our students and all those who were on the trip."
They also thanked Burger King and its staff for allowing students to be gathered in their restaurant and away from the accident scene.