Wouldn't it be great if dismissal time were just like the Starbuck's drive-thru. I envision happy parents pulling up to the loading zone with smiles on their faces. Teachers greeting each parent by name. Students ready to jump into cars, and elaborately answer the question "How was your day?" The cars move in a continuous line as if on a conveyor belt heading off to happy soccer practices, piano recitals, and tutoring lessons.
Unfortunately, our day to day dismissal misses this mark. I refuse to bore the reader with a description of the realities. Any parent who has experienced drop-off is all too aware of what happens when hundreds of families descend on a school all within the same 10 minute time-frame. Parents are frustrated. Staff is frustrated. And oh my goodness, it's been hot in California this September, which totally doesn't help the situation.
I love the PTSA President at our school. She's a "can-do" person who identifies challenges and works to solve them...my kind of woman! She and I have been working closely together with our community to make drop-off and dismissal safe and somewhat pleasant.
So here's our plan...We have designed a new color coded map for parents to visually see the traffic patterns of our school. We have posted safety signs on the marquee and all over our social media outlets. Both the assistant principal and I monitor the safety of students in the morning and afternoons. We also have 2 teachers that assist with this duty. Additionally, a parent has now stepped up to put school sanctioned "friendly reminders" on the cars that are not following our "Be Safe, Be Courteous" campaign.
In working with our local city, a recent traffic study report suggests that we have the proper levels of signage and crossing guards. Our community was just not designed to house a school of our size. We have requested additional police presence, but understand that giving out traffic tickets isn't the answer either.
A parent sent me this awesome video describing a system where students remain in their classrooms until their names are projected on the screen. Parents are able to text when their car is approaching the pick-up line. This is an interesting concept that warrants more research and investigation.
For now, student safety is the primary concern. Helping our community clearly understand the procedures in our parking lot should go a long way in solving the problem. Teaching others our social norms will take lots of good people doing the right thing by setting an appropriate example. It's won't be quite like the Starbuck's drive-thru, but our kids will make it safely home.