Updates made to the way parents arrive at the Oak Ridge School to pick up their children at the end of the school day has helped alleviate some of the traffic jams that would occur daily on Quaker Meetinghouse Road.
In addition to being a source of frustration for parents trying to pick up their children at the end of the day, the situation was also a public safety hazard, said School Resource Officer Jessica Kent.
Prior to the updated procedure, parents were unable to enter the school property until after all of the buses had departed. This would result in some parents pulling off the side of Quaker Meetinghouse Road as a way to stage themselves for pickup, and others would pull off into the residential neighborhoods and park.
Backups on Quaker Meetinghouse were happening in both directions, and with cars parked on the side of the road, it made it difficult for emergency vehicles to come through. The backup also caused confusion for the people caught in traffic who were not there to pick up children.
Officer Kent said that part of the problem was in how the buses were arranged at the end of the day, using both the large bus loop at the front of the school as well as the loop in the left-hand side parking lot, which is used in the mornings for student drop-off.
As of Monday, all 20 buses are able to fit in the large bus loop, thanks to some creative thinking—the buses are arranged almost like a zipper, Officer Kent said.
This has opened up that smaller loop to allow parents who arrive before the buses leave a place to safely park and wait. If that lot becomes full, signs will be placed at the school entrance so that parents know to come back in a few minutes. Officer Kent said that those signs have not had to be used yet.
Once the buses leave, the parents in the holding area are ushered to the main bus loop first, and then any remaining cars are allowed in. The rest of the process remains the same, with school staff outside using a radio to let staff inside know which students to send out.
A video explaining the new procedure was sent to parents over the weekend and can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/603208979.
“Overall, the whole purpose of the change is to make the environment safe not only for the public, but for the children,” Officer Kent said.