MORRIS – Parents dropping off and picking up children at White Oak Elementary and Shabbona Middle School will see changes this fall as to where they are allowed to drive and where children will be let out.
“We’ve worked with the fire department, implementing a plan,” Superintendent Teri Shaw said Monday. “Of the 900 students at White Oak, we have about 200 who are either walkers or picked up and dropped off; for the 700 [students] riding buses, there are no changes.”
For parents dropping off students at White Oak, the process will be the same as last year: Staff members will greet the student when he or she is dropped off in the morning. Drop-off remains by the small gym at door 28 at the northeast entrance to the building.
Students may begin to enter the building at 8:20 a.m., and the first bell rings at 8:35 a.m.
However, picking up the students will be a different process.
“In an effort to increase the safety of our students during the pick-up times at White Oak, a new traffic pattern has been established,” Shaw said in a news release.
There will no longer be car access off Partridge Lane, and parents may only access the school grounds from Dupont Avenue.
Kindergarten and first-grade students will exit the building through the main entrance of White Oak at door 1, near the main office.
Students in second and third grades will exit the building through the District Office door, which is labeled door 2 on the south end of the building.
Students in fourth and fifth grades will exit the building through door 28, the same door all students enter during the morning drop-off.
If parents have students in different grades, Shaw said they need to make a plan on where they will meet their children.
In an attempt to help route traffic, gates have been installed to ensure the flow of the new traffic pattern and to keep vehicles from parking in the newly painted fire lane.
“In the front circle drive a gate will be shut down while school is in session,” Shaw said Monday. “There will be no parking permitted at any time during school hours.”
Morris Fire Protection and Ambulance District Chief Tracey Steffes said he was contacted by a District 54 board member and asked to attend a safety meeting. While he was unable to attend the meeting, he did meet with Shaw to discuss the district plans for the schools.
“Painting the fire lane red works for me, other communities have done this,” Steffes said. “The gates they plan to install are made from plastic, are movable and are just present to funnel traffic. They won’t hinder our access to the school.”
Steffes said state Fire Marshall Bob Coleman also checked out the design and has no issues with the plan.
The gates cannot be permanent gates, they must be easily moved, and cannot be padlocked or chained.
Shabbona Middle School
The fire lanes at Shabbona also have been painted red and parents are to park in a parking space at the front of the school when picking up a child or meeting with a teacher. They are no longer able to park along the curb in the front circle drive.
“Teachers and staff will not park in front of the school, only visiting teachers and principals, so there will be plenty of spaces for parents who need to stop at the school,” Shaw said.
The front circle drive and the lane in front of main rear entrance door 18 at Shabbona are both fire lanes.
Parents are asked when picking up their children from Shabbona at the end of the day that they park in the designated parking spots and exit the property appropriately.
“Do not park along the fire lane and wait for your student,” Shaw said.