By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
Photo by Lisa Bicknell
Estill Springs Elementary principal Jessica Mullins said buses will use the front loop for drop-off, as usual.
Because of continuing construction on the roads in front of Estill Springs Elementary, parents are likely wondering about bus routes and how they are going to drop off and pick up their children when school starts next week.
Adding to the uncertainty, ESE will be housing kindergarten students this year, which creates more challenges for school administrators.
However, ESE principal Jessica Mullins and her staff are taking extensive measures to ensure the safety of all children and a smooth traffic flow.
Mullins said nothing has really changed about the traffic plan since last year, except that kindergarten students being picked up by parents will be released at 2:30 in the afternoon. Parents of first and second grade students may pick up their child/children at 2:55 p.m.
If a parent has both a kindergarten student and a first or second grader, they can pick both of them up after announcements, which happen at 2:55 p.m.
The split times are designed to keep the traffic moving. Mullins said she feels it is important in case an ambulance or other emergency vehicle needs to get through on Rice and Court Streets.
School buses will still load and unload in front of the building as usual. Parents will loop around the back parking lots by entering from Rice Street or Court/Laurel Streets.
For parents dropping off their students, plenty of safety measures are put into place. Five staff members will be outside in the back, ready to assist students from their cars to the blue awning where they will be escorted on into the building to designated holding areas. A total of 20 staff members will be supervising student’s arrivals.
“Children are never without an adult,” said Mullins. To make the process smoother, she asks that students be seated on the passenger side of the car.
Parents of children still in five-point harness carseats will have to pull up and buckle the child in at pickup. The school is not allowed to buckle carseats for them because of liability reasons.
Each child will be given two car tags with their pickup number, which will also double as their lunchroom number. ??? Additional car tags may be purchased at the front office for others who might be dropping off or picking up children.
Children will not be released without the tag. If a child doesn’t have one with them, they must be checked out at the front office.
Students will also be given colored bands/bracelets which will help distinguish from which schools they are being picked up. Those bands are to be left on the child’s backpack, at least for the first several weeks of school until students and staff become accustomed to their routine.
“We have many counter measures in place for the safety of the children,” Mullins said.
Parent pickup is designed so parents don’t have to come into the building. Mullins said that is not because they aren’t welcome, but because parking is very limited, more so than ever since kindergarten students will be at ESE. She added that parents are very much welcome to schedule a conference or sign up to volunteer in the classroom.
Mullins said the first week of school may be challenging traffic-wise, but she encourages parents/caregivers to “hang in there” and give it a week, after which she expects everything to be moving along like clockwork.
She also encourages parents of first and second graders to wait until a few minutes after 3 p.m. to pick up students, when they will be able to drive through quickly.