It’s almost time for back to school, and that means a change of routine for many parents and children, more cars on the road, more activity around schools, and more opportunities for children to find themselves in an unsafe situation. Here are a few tips to make sure that everyone stays safe before, during, and after school.
Traffic patterns will change when school is back in session, as parents drop off and pick up children, so be aware of this and of the extra vehicles around schools. Also note that the speed limit in school zones is 30km/hour, and that unless signs indicate otherwise, this speed limit is in effect from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on schooldays. The fine for speeding in a school zone ranges from $196 to $483, and also carries three driver penalty points.
Watch out for those making their way to and from school on foot or by bicycle, and who might dart suddenly into the road. Parents should ensure that children walking or riding to school know the rules of the road and that they remain alert to what’s going on around them. It’s also a good idea, with younger children who may be walking on their own for the first time, to go over the route with them and point out anything that might be a hazard.
Parents should tell children to cross the street at designated crosswalks, and not in the middle of a block.
If you’re dropping off a child, have him or her exit the vehicle on the same side of the road as the curb or sidewalk, rather than on the road side, where they could be struck by a passing vehicle.
Be careful around school buses, and make sure to stop when a school bus has its yellow lights flashing. Even when you’re clear to drive on, make sure to watch for children at the side of the road.
Stress the importance of your child staying on the school grounds at recess and lunchtime (unless they come home at lunch).
The provincial government has recently released a new Emergency Management Planning Guide, designed to help schools, students, and teachers be prepared for any emergency which might happen. Parents and guardians can help by participating in drills or exercises related to emergency preparedness, and by encouraging students to take these drills and exercises seriously.
Make sure that your child’s contact, medical, and student release information is current and includes any new/changed telephone numbers and health information. This information is vital to schools in the case of an emergency.
If your child has a serious health issue, such as diabetes or a severe allergy, make sure to let staff at the school know. Also make sure that any necessary medications or foods are left at the school, and that staff know where they are and when/how to administer them.
Keep your child safe from identity theft by ensuring they do not carry their Social Insurance Number (SIN) around with them. If a school asks for your child’s SIN ask why they need it and how it will be stored. Also ask what the school’s policy is on things such as surveys, data breaches, and programs that require personal information, who has access to this information, and who they are allowed to disclose it to.
If you would rather that your child’s picture did not appear in school newsletters or the local paper, or on a school’s social media pages, make sure you do not sign the release form your child will get when school starts.
Many children are on their own for a time when they return home after school. Make sure that they know a few basic safety rules, such as keeping doors locked, and go over what they should do if someone calls or comes to the door. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers (parent’s work and cellphone numbers; the doctor’s office; neighbours or relatives who live nearby and can quickly come over to help if necessary) in a prominent place. If there will be younger children in the care of an older child, make sure any potential hazards such as medications, cleaners, razors, and tools are locked away.
Have a safe and happy new school year!