WHEELING - Police are reminding drivers to use extra caution while traveling through school zones and residential areas as students across the Ohio Valley are returning to school this month.
Ohio County public school students returned to the classroom this week, and Cameron students already have been in session for several days.
Regardless of whether they have a child returning to school, it is likely that drivers will encounter school-related traffic, said Wheeling Police Officer and Highway Safety Coordinator Neil Fowkes.
Photo by Tyler Reynard
Crossing guard Chris Midkiff halts traffic while people cross Zane Street near Madison Elementary School on Wheeling Island on Thursday afternoon.
Drivers should slow their speeds and be aware that children excited about returning to school may not pay attention to their surroundings, Fowkes said. Children may dart in front of vehicles, play near bus stops or fail to use sidewalks, he said.
Madison Elementary School Principal Nikki Kacmarik said about 240 of the 270 students at Madison walk to and from school every morning and afternoon. About half of those children live on the south end of Wheeling Island and cross busy Zane Street twice every day, she added.
Kacmarik said the school has utilized a crossing guard at Zane Street every one of the 35 years she has been there to reduce the potential for accidents.
"Zane Street is four lanes and it's very busy," Kacmarik said. "There's a lot of traffic passing the school."
On the first day of class Thursday, crossing guard Chris Midkiff was standing outside of Madison, pausing traffic with a hand-held stop sign as students and their parents crossed Zane Street.
"The crossing guard is a huge part of keeping kids safe when they're crossing Zane Street," Kacmarik said. "Safety is our No. 1 concern."
Ohio County school administrators went to great lengths last year to teach children bus safety following repeated incidents of motorists passing stationary school buses.
Fowkes said parents should reinforce those lessons at home.
Students should arrive at the bus stop early and stand at least 6 feet away from the curb, Fowkes advised.