Be alert: It’s back-to-school time

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    It’s back-to-school time for Archuleta School District Tuesday.

    Those bright and smiling faces of our community’s children will be taking their first-first-day-of-school pictures before heading out the door.

    There will be a huge change in traffic flow around Pagosa Country come Tuesday morning. You can expect heavy traffic in the mornings and afternoons. 

    While improvements have been made regarding sidewalks in town, keep in mind that there are, unfortunately, still areas where kids have to walk in the streets to get to school.

    Pay attention. Be alert. Slow down. Expect the unexpected.

    If you have school-aged children, we encourage you to also take the time to remind them about safety while waiting for the bus, crossing the street or walking to school.

    It’s not just kids walking to school, but you will find the wheels on those big yellow school buses going round and round on county roads, on highways and on streets around town. Watch for the flashing lights and stop-sign arms. Be prepared to stop. 

    The National Safety Council offers these tips for sharing the road with school buses:

    • If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.

    • Never pass a bus from behind, or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road, if it is stopped to load or unload.

    • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.

    • The area around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.

    • Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.

    The following information is provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which reminds parents and their children to refresh their knowledge on getting to and from school safely. Safety must be the first lesson of every new school year.

    Over the last decade, the majority of school-age pedestrians who were fatally injured in school-transportation-related crashes were struck by school buses or other vehicles when getting on or off a school bus. Teach your child to always play it safe:

    • Stay five steps away from the curb.

    • Always wait for the bus driver to tell you when to board.

    • Exit the bus when it stops, look left-right-left and take five steps away from the bus toward the curb.

    Walking to school is great exercise and gets students ready to face their studies. Children under 10 years old should be accompanied by an adult or someone who will make sure they walk safely. Teach your child to always:

    • Use the sidewalk whenever possible, and if there isn’t a sidewalk, walk on the edge of the street facing traffic.

    • Use crosswalks whenever they are available to cross the street.

    • Look left-right-left before crossing any street.

    Kids love riding their bikes, and it can be a fun, quick way to get to school. Be sure to do these things to keep your bike ride safe:

    • Always wear a properly fitted helmet and securely fasten the chin strap.

    • Ride in the same direction as traffic and follow traffic signs and signals.

    A bit of caution could make a huge difference. If it takes you a couple more minutes to get where you are going — it’s definitely worth it. 

    We want everyone to get where they are going safely.

    Enjoy these last days of summer and make it a fantastic school year. 

    Terri Lynn Oldham House