As parents prepare to send their children off to the first day of classes in Edmond, educators and safety officials are taking steps to ensure they come home safe.
For Edmond’s 22,000-plus students who attend classes at 15 elementary schools, one early childhood center, five middle schools, three high schools and an alternative high school center, the first day of school is Tuesday; for Deer Creek it was Thursday. University of Central Oklahoma students return to classes Monday.
For motorists, that means busier streets near schools, student crosswalks, kids getting on and off buses, kids who may not be looking out for cars and 25 mph school zones.
Police spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said police officers will be out in force not just on Day One but on Day Two as well monitoring the streets.
“It has been a long, hot summer and every summer motorists get used to not having to slow down in school zones,” Monroe said. “Every year we have quite a few drivers speeding through school zones the first few days.”
Monroe urged drivers to be extra cautious as they approach school areas and to not just watch their speed, but to also watch for a child that may dart into the street.
The Edmond Police Department’s goal is to not write extra tickets but to try to keep Edmond children as safe as possible, Monroe said. Also remember that when you are driving and a school bus has the stop arm out during loading and unloading traffic in both directions must stop until the bus moves forward, Monroe said.
A ticket for speeding in a school zone is $249, Monroe said. Give yourself extra time to get where you’re going and watch your speed near the zones, Monroe said.
Edmond Public Schools spokeswoman Susan Parks-Schlepp said the district would like to remind drivers to slow down near schools, especially during peak times which are 7-9 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. Parks-Schlepp emphasized the excitement factor in students being less attentive than normal.
So did AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai. Mai urged parents to keep in mind AAA’s ABCs of safety in mind:
• Avoid being distracted while behind the wheel;
• Teach children their home phone numbers and addresses, your work phone numbers and how to dial 911;
• Chart a course with the fewest street crossings or with intersections that have crossing guards or AAA safety patrollers;
• Do not exceed 15 mph in or near a school zone, a AAA recommendation based on studies that show a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 15 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed as compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 25 mph;
• Always use cross walks when available;
• Use the “buddy system” when walking to and from school; and
• Stay alert to inattentive drivers.
After the Newtown, Conn., tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December in which 20 students and six educators were killed Edmond Police officers kept a closer watch on schools and students.
Edmond Public Schools, the Police Department and city officials produced a video that explained for parents what steps were being taken to enhance security. Steps included having officers write their reports at the end of their shifts in school parking lots. Monroe said the practice will continue as will having officers pay more attention to schools in their districts across the city.
Regarding school resource officers, funded by both the Police Department and Edmond Public Schools, there will be one at each high school and others will rotate among the middle schools. While the number of school resource officers has not increased at this time, the department and the school district periodically review security needs, Monroe said.
Other ongoing security measures in Edmond include controlling visitor access at school sites, requiring instant background checks for visitors entering buildings, having district-wide protocols in place for various situations including lockdowns and adding security cameras. The district also maintains a vigorous dangerous weapons policy, which includes any facsimile of a gun including cap, toy or water guns.
Additionally, each school has a Safe School Committee. It addresses issues including possible strategies for students to avoid harm at school, crime prevention, school violence and other issues that prohibit the maintenance of a safe school.
For more information about Edmond Public Schools’ policies, visit edmondschools.net.
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