In particular, the Sitka Police Department reminds drivers to pay special attention in school zones and near school bus stops during the morning before classes and afternoon when classes end.
“Be extra attentive around the elementary schools where smaller children are going to be present, and around the bus stops,” Sitka Police Lt. Barry Allen said. “Smaller children may not be visible as they walk between cars and around other visual obstructions. The smaller children tend to be most active in the mornings and the most eager to get home in the afternoons. They may not be paying close attention to vehicles on the roadways.”
The Sitka School District has about 1,300 students at five schools around town. In addition, there are about 400-425 students at the state-run Mount Edgecumbe High School boarding school, which also started classes this week.
Parents should teach their children the importance of looking both ways before crossing streets and other safety tips for walking. In addition, they can request free reflective tape to put on their child’s clothes (front, back and sides) and backpacks by contacting the Alaska Injury Prevention Center in Anchorage. Parents also can work with the Alaska Safe Routes To School program to help make sure popular walking and biking routes to Sitka schools are safe for students. A few years ago, a coalition of local residents developed a Safe Routes To School master plan for Sitka. Sitka does have a mandatory bicycle helmet ordinance for youth age 18 and younger, and the ordinance includes kids using scooters, skateboards and other similar devices.
Finally, a reminder that the International Walk (and Bike) to School Day this year is on Wednesday, Oct. 9. It’s not too early to start planning local events to promote safe walking and the health benefits of students walking to school.