A FEW NOTES AROUND THE DISTRICT
After three months of a break from the routine of school, it is good to take time to remember some key safety issues—particularly those around school buildings and buses! We need to remember the issues in order to provide the most safe environments for our students!
School zones, in the state of Minnesota, are alcohol, drug and weapon-free zones. Minnesota laws specifically address these issues to keep school properties free from alcohol, drugs and weapons. Although alcohol is simply prohibited from school property, in the case of drugs and weapons, Minnesota statutes also create a “zone” around the property as these items must be kept specific distances away from buildings and property as well.
Most school districts have also adopted policies prohibiting the use of tobacco in school buildings and, often, on school grounds. Minnesota law addresses tobacco use in public buildings, but schools have long had specific policies to deal with tobacco use on the grounds. In the ROCORI School District, tobacco use is prohibited in all school buildings, on all school grounds and in all school vehicles.
These guidelines and statutes are all imposed in order to provide safe environments, both physically and emotionally, for students!
Bus safety, both student knowledge and public attentiveness, is essential to a safe school setting as well. We do expect students to know quite a bit about school buses and transportation safety measures. It is equally important for the public to be attentive to school buses and practice bus safety as well!
Students are annually required to review bus safety information. All students across the district, from kindergarten to seniors, are expected to know and demonstrate school bus safety. Student knowledge in this area includes an understanding of the safe zones and danger zones of buses, knowledge of the bus emergency exits and procedures, and understanding of the fundamental rules of transportation.
In the ROCORI District, our students are physically taken through the buses by our contractors as part of bus safety training. Students walk through the buses and demonstrate safety procedures in exiting the buses.
As citizens and community members, it is important for us to watch for buses and be attentive to their signals—especially the flashing lights and stop arms. Minnesota laws are very stringent in dealing with issues of “running” bus lights and stop arms. Penalties for doing so can be quite significant.
Common sense is also an important element when you see buses moving around. Remember that buses typically don’t slow down or stop unless there are students present. If you are driving a vehicle and encounter a bus that is slowing down or is already stopped (unless obviously at a road sign or signal), most likely students are also going to be there! Be careful and cautious as you see buses moving around!
SCHOOL TRAFFIC ZONES
Adults should also remember some key safety issues in regard to school traffic areas and traffic zones! As a school building is approached, it is important to be alert to activity around the building. Good advice would be to “be attentive and slow down” in school zones.
In the city of Cold Spring, this last issue has become even more important. Because of the amount of traffic around the school campus, County Roads 2 and 50 are considered “hazardous highways” within the district. Despite the label as hazardous, traffic studies have allowed the speed limit to be increased on County Road 2 from the intersection by the clinic toward the edge of town. This is now a 40 mph zone in the city—despite the fact that the schools are present.
The raised speed limit makes it all the more important for travelers to be attentive as you travel on County Road 2—especially when students are present!
CAMPUS PARKING AND BUS LOADING
Last year we made a change in the transportation system for the district. We moved from a two-tiered system to a single-tier system. This means we only run one base route for our bus network—all buses run at one time and pick up all students across the district.
Because of this change, we have also changed the utility and function of the parking lot between Cold Spring Elementary School and the Secondary school site. The “parking lot” is now our bus loading and unloading zone for all of the students at both sites. In the morning, our buses circle through the lot to drop students at the secondary building, then move across to drop students at Cold Spring Elementary. Several of the buses also remain to serve as shuttles for students to parochial schools, Richmond Elementary or John Clark Elementary.
We have posted this area as a bus zone only during those time periods. We are asking that parents and public stay out of these areas during the time from 7:30 to 9:00 in the morning and from 2:00 to 3:30 in the afternoon. That allows the buses to come into the areas, safely load and unload students, and move on to their routes or other duties.
During the daytime, school hours, the north end of the parking lot also has gates that are closed to reduce the amount of vehicle access to the area. Students from Cold Spring Elementary School use the parking lot asphalt surface as a playground area and we need to keep moving vehicles out of that area. Student safety dictates that we limit traffic; the best way to do so is to close the gates during the day.
Students are expected, if they have purchased the appropriate parking permits, to use the lot to the south of the secondary building. The lot on the north end of the High School (by the new gym) is reserved for guests and staff of the building. Student parking is all expected to be in the south parking lot.
There are a lot of things we can do, as students, staff, parents, and community members, to help improve student safety at school. Although there are many different things that can be done, common sense and basic legislation essentially outline the core elements of good school safety practices. All of the safety issues are designed to provide a quality environment for our students.