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Ask Experts About Safety

Increasing the number of half-awake motorists on the road early in the morning may not be a good idea. It is one being talked about by some public school officials, however.

Throughout our area, plans for reopening schools for the 2020-21 academic year are being discussed. Most strategies are tentative, subject to change if the COVID-19 epidemic waxes or wanes in our region.

Northern Panhandle boards of education have been finalizing plans for reopening, slated for Sept. 8. The matter of students who ride school buses has come up. It appears some school officials are encouraging parents and guardians to consider driving children to school rather than putting them on school buses.

That is understandable, in view of how the coronavirus is transmitted. Social distancing — staying at least six feet away from other people — is being touted.

That will not happen on school buses, particularly with younger children. For that matter, we suspect teachers will find it difficult to enforce social distancing in classrooms.

Driving one’s children to school in the morning, then picking them up in the afternoon, may appeal to some parents and guardians, for safety reasons.

But would that really be safer? What about the potential for early-morning accidents — perhaps involving drowsy drivers and stopped school buses?

Perhaps that should be a concern — and perhaps it should not. We don’t know. But we suggest that school officials should consult with traffic safety experts. That should not be difficult; the West Virginia Department of Education could spend a few dollars for a consultation, then disseminate the information to all 55 county school districts. The money and effort could be well spent to get a better idea of whether, in the long run, children would be safer with mom or dad behind the wheel than if they rode buses to and from school.

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