As the days get shorter, darker and colder, Bellingham Public Schools’ health, safety and transportation leaders have provided some safety tips to help children get to and from school.
Overall, they recommend:
▪ Wear clothing appropriate for the weather, including footwear.
▪ Wear clothes that are most visible in the dark while walking, biking or waiting for the bus. Reflective patches and/or a flashlight are helpful for motorists and bus drivers.
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▪ Leave enough time to walk safely to the school or bus stop.
▪ Be aware of slippery roads/sidewalks.
“We’re fortunate to live in a climate where walking, biking, and busing to school is practical year-round. With a little extra consideration in the winter season, we can ensure kids’ safety and comfort in the darker and colder months ahead,” said Jonah Stinson, director of School Safety and Emergency Management.
More specifically, the health, safety and transportation leaders had these specific recommendations.
If you walk to school or the bus stop:
▪ Wear sturdy shoes or boots as sidewalks can be slick in the early mornings and on cold days.
▪ Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars or other obstacles before crossing so drivers can see you.
▪ Cross the street in well-lit areas and designated crosswalks when possible and walk facing the direction of moving cars.
▪ Walk to school or your bus stop with peers or an adult.
▪ Be visible to drivers. Wear bright or light-colored clothing and reflective materials, or use reflective tape on backpacks.
If you bike to school:
▪ Do not wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while bicycling, and always wear a helmet.
▪ Make sure everyone can see you and knows where you are and where you are going.
▪ If riding in the dark, use headlights, taillights and reflectors and wear reflective materials and brightly colored clothing.
▪ Be predictable and visible. Avoid quick motions that motorists and other travelers may not be expecting.
If you drive your children to school:
▪ Follow the speed limit. Remember, the speed limit is 20 mph in a school zone, and no passing is allowed.
▪ Be alert for children in the school zone.
▪ Do not double-park, stop in crosswalks, or interfere with school buses in the bus loading area of a school.
Many parents drop off and pick up students by driving or carpooling and these safety tips can help with safe arrival and dismissal.
▪ Stay in designated pick-up areas as directed by school personnel.
▪ Yield to pedestrians, crossing guards and buses and be aware that children who are walking home may not look both ways before venturing in or across a roadway.
▪ Speed on school campus is to be kept at a minimum and drivers must operate their vehicles with due care and caution at all times.
▪ Be sure to drive the proper direction through parking lots and nearby streets.
▪ When waiting for students to be released, pull all the way forward on the curb to allow other cars ample room and minimize driving around.
While some Bellingham schools have flexible indoor spaces for students who arrive in the early morning before school starts, others are working to illuminate playgrounds and covered play areas to help with visibility supervision.
If you have questions, talk to your school principal or call School Safety and Emergency Management at 360-676-6470, extension 6533.
If your family needs help getting cold-weather clothing for your children, help is available at Bellingham Public Schools’ Family Resource Center at Shuksan Middle School.