Schools see traffic back-ups as parents play it safe, drive kids to class

Updated: Sep. 11, 2020 at 9:41 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - More parents driving their children to school. It’s because of COVID-19. Sometimes it can turn drop-off and pick-up into an adventure.

Vehicles are lined up these days for the start of school at Lawrence Avenue Elementary in Potsdam. Parents opting for car rides for their children over buses. It’s an attempt to keep them safe from COVID-19.

“It’s a bit of a long bus route for us from where we live and better safe than sorry I think,” said Nick Hughes, Potsdam parent.

The first day of school saw Lawrence Avenue backed up solid. So they came up with a plan. Cars snake around school parking lots, getting everyone off the road. So far, so good.

“I think it’s working as well as you could expect,” said Hughes.

At Canton schools, traffic is much heavier at the elementary school as well. But it’s not necessarily worse – at least on State Street.

“The things that were really kind of keeping me up at night about traffic flow have not come to realization,” said Ronald Burke, Canton superintendent.

But it’s still busy out there. Just ask any crossing guard. Surveys done by Canton and Potsdam schools show twice as many students are being driven to school this year.

“Everyone is concerned about making appropriate social distancing. It certainly was a primary concern or ours as we were developing our safety plan,” said Joann Chambers, Potsdam superintendent.

All the students riding in cars has had one positive effect. It has made it easier to social distance students on buses. Some parents say that’s another reason they do it.

It’s not just arrival time that has been impacted by this. School dismissal is also a whole new ballgame and schools have had to come up with creative solutions.

At Canton schools, some elementary students are released early. The parent has a placard in their car window and the child is brought out. At Potsdam, parents will soon have an app called PikMyChild. It sort of does the same thing, but via cell phone.

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