The School Year is upon us! Crossing Guards have dusted off their uniforms, School Bus Drivers are performing their safety maintenance and the cheers of children have reinvaded our streets. We all start the school year with hope, excitement and yes… a little anxiety. In the past 20 years or so the way schools focus on safety has become paramount: safety first; education second.
Who can really blame administrators for the concern? I don’t need to cite some of the recent tragedies that we read about in the news to get my point across. Some incidents are unavoidable; we all understand this. On the other hand, some incidents can be avoided by taking a few steps to organize your school parking lots, your student drop off zones and simply posting proper School Signs — school safety and school facility signs.
Each State seems to enforce laws within a School Zone differently. In some cases Speeding Fines are doubled and penalties are stiffer for drug or gun possession. A “School Zone” is defined as “an area in, or on the grounds of, a public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or grades 1 to 12, inclusive, or within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of the public or private school.”
Posting School Zone Signs, and signs related to School Pedestrian Traffic, is an effective way to create awareness within and around the School Zone. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) has designated its own classification of School Zone Traffic Signs.
In accordance with this guidance the MUTCD has stated that “many state and local jurisdictions find it beneficial to advise road users that they are approaching a school that is adjacent to a highway, where additional care is needed, even though no school crossing is involved and the speed limit remains unchanged.” They write later in the definition that “It is important and sometimes legally necessary to mark the beginning and end points of these designated school zones so that the road user is given proper notice.”
So what does all this mean to School Administrators?
Posting School Zone Signs (which are not only defined by Pedestrian Crossing Signs or the notification of the beginning or ending of a School Zone) are not only a legal obligation depending on the jurisdiction in which your School is located but providing signage such as a “Slow, Children Playing” Sign is a good idea to alert drivers that children, as rambunctious as they can be, are in the area and to be extra alert during school operating hours.
Additional measures within our School Zones can also be applied by employing specific personnel as an additional layer of safety and security. An entire army of School Crossing Guards have been employed armed only with good intentions and traffic paddle signs. MUTCD 2003 Section 7E.02 illustrates that school crossing guards “may be used to provide gaps in traffic at a school crossing where an engineering study has shown that adequate gaps need to be created and where authorized by law.” School Crossing Guards add an additional set of adult eyes where children congregate providing an additional level of security.
Increasing the safety of commuters and students alike doesn’t end with the obvious. In some cases simply employing a designated drop off area in a school parking lot can corral traffic and, by proxy of segregating unofficial visitors, can increase security within a school zone.
The safety doesn’t stop there though:
(1) With the current rash of reactive violence that has become an epidemic in our School Systems, Anti-Bullying signs have become the public service announcement of the 2010s. Entire curricula have been devoted to stomping out bullying once and for all. In addition to educating our children about fighting back against bullies, a series of no bully signs have been developed to institutionally support the movement.
(2) With violence in schools on the minds of parents and society as a whole there has been a trend towards the purchase of “No Guns” and “No Drugs” signs and other school safety signs. D. A. R. E. programs have been established and although there is no way to measure their success, one thing is for sure, parents will not sit idly by and watch their children succumb to an avoidable decision that will affect the rest of their lives. We all understand that No Drug Signs or No Weapons Signs posted outside or on school grounds is not necessarily going to thwart a child attempting to bring a weapon into school. However, reminding people that a Zero Tolerance for drugs and weapons on school grounds is the first step to developing a School culture of safety. Designating Drug Free School Zones and then supporting this designation with tough laws for offenders is a step in the right direction towards the increased safety of students and faculty.
(3) Our responsibilities as parents and citizens revolve around a 360-degree approach to the health and well-being of this country’s greatest asset: our children. Simply putting a “No Idling” sign at a pick up location can contribute to the respiratory health of growing lungs. A simple “No Smoking” sign is another way to avoid unintentional second hand fumes.
Signs are more than just applications of safety and security. They can act as rewards and can contribute to the morale of your staff and faculty. For instance, designating a spot for your School Nurse or Teacher of the Month can be a valuable tool to single out outstanding professional accomplishments and can serve as a instrument for building the professional culture of your school. By using School Parking Signs and issuing Parking Permits you can reward Juniors and Seniors with one of their first responsibilities as a young drivers: their own parking space.
SafetySign.com has a full array of products that can increase the safety of your school or just simply reward the hard work of Students and Faculty alike. Check them out.