The opening day of school on Wednesday will bring changes for motorists in the community.
Parents taking students to Monett Elementary School will encounter something they have not seen before: speed bumps.
The entire arrangement at Monett Elementary will be different this year. Parents driving children to campus will come to school off County Street and down Learning Lane where buses used to go. With the move of the central office to the new building, parents will no longer be using the old Circle Drive off Dunn.
According to a spokesperson for Principal Susie Gasser, parents driving to the school will turn right at the end of Learning Lane and drive counter clockwise around the edge of the parking lot to the entrance of the new commons building. On this loop, they will encounter speed bumps similar to those at the high school.
Buses bringing children to school will come down Learning Lane as well. Instead of going to the main entrance, they will turn left at the end of Learning Lane and go to the east end of the new first grade wing, near the old Circle Drive. Children on buses will be greeted by school staff as they get off the buses.
While the changes at Monett Elementary represent the most dramatic differences as school resumes, Police Lieutenant Greg Brandsma encouraged motorists to stay alert to changes in daily traffic patterns.
"We hope people are patient," said Brandsma. "There are going to be changes from summer. Everyone can recognize the change in traffic volume from summer to school time. We've had no incidents of road rage or auto-pedestrian accidents with school children in Monett, and we want to continue that."
As a general rule, Brandsma encouraged motorists to leave more distance between themselves and other cars as school begins. He said children also need to get used to the increased traffic and to recognize motorists may not always be aware of their presence.
"Children need to obey traffic laws," Brandsma said, "to wait for the crossing guard and not cross against the light. If you have a question, proceed with caution."
Adults should make sure children know to walk facing traffic and as far away from the roadway surface as possible when walking on a street that does not offer a sidewalk. Children who must walk before daylight or after dark should wear reflective or light-colored clothing and carry a flashlight.
Police officers will make an effort to be out and about to monitor traffic activity as school resumes. Speed limits will be strictly enforced, especially at school crossing times when students arrive and depart. Crossing guards wearing their distinctive vests will be on duty in an effort to keep students safe.
Brandsma said Officer Jarrod Jarvis, the official community service officer with the schools, will be on duty to talk to children and work with parents. Parents are encouraged to work out walking routes in advance, especially if they were new residents.
"If parents or children have problems, contact the police department so we can arrives at some remedy to the concern," Brandsma said.
Children who ride the bus to and from school should wait in a safe location off the roadway. Once on the bus, kids should remain in their seats while the bus in motion and keep their head and arms inside the bus at all times.
Parents should also encourage kids to be alert to traffic when getting on or off the bus and follow instructions given by their bus driver.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 15. Children account for nearly one-third of all pedestrian and vehicle casualties.
T help protect children, AAA offers he following safety tips for drivers:
* Slow down near schools and in residential areas.
* Drive with headlights on, even during the day.
* Look for clues, such as safety patrollers, bicycles and playgrounds, which indicate children could be in the area.
* Scan between parked cars and other objects for kids.
* Practice extra caution in bad weather.
* Always stop for school buses that are loading and unloading students.
The Monett curfew ordinance does not change because summer ends. Brandsma reminded parents that children are to be back home or in the company of an adult by 11 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and by midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.