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A service of the Bradford County Telegraph, Inc.

Be alert as school starts back on Aug. 22

The Union County Sheriff’s Office wants to remind everyone that all three public schools start back Thursday, Aug. 22, and with that there will be increased traffic on S.R. 121 (SW sixth street) and S.R. 231 and (SW sixth avenue).

The Florida Department of Transportation has updated the school zone safety lights in both the elementary and middle school zones. The sheriff’s office will be providing traffic control to assist with safety. Please help keep children safe by being aware and paying extra attention to safety while driving.

In all the excitement of starting back to school, it is easy to overlook the day-to-day hazards that go along with traveling to school—especially for the younger students. Whether a child walks, rides in the school bus, or travels in a vehicle or bicycle, it is important to remember the safety issues.

If using a school bus to get to school, students should line up facing the school bus door and never play in or near the street while waiting for the bus, never reach or crawl under the bus to get anything that has rolled or fallen underneath and after getting off the bus, wait for the driver to acknowledge you, and never cross behind the school bus.

For walkers, try to not walk alone, and pay attention to traffic signals and caution lights, and use the crossing guard while crossing the street.

For those who ride to school in a car, always wear your seatbelt and go right from the car to the sidewalk.

For those who drive to school, reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down the phone and do not text while driving. This year the state of Florida made it illegal to text while driving; giving law enforcement the authority to site drivers caught doing that.

All drivers should slow down and be aware of children who might dart out into the street near the school zones, playgrounds or bus stops.

The first few weeks of the school year are extra busy, so leave yourself extra time to travel to your destination, either traveling to school or through the school zone. Always abide by the law and stop for school buses that are loading or unloading children and watch for school crossing guards.

All traffic citation fines are doubled if the violation occurs within the school zone.

Parents should teach their children to always be aware of their surroundings and if someone tries to approach them or bother them it should be reported to law enforcement at once. You should make sure the school has current and accurate emergency contact information on file for your children.

Also, parents, always know where your children will be. Teach your children to always “check first” with you before changing their plans before or after school. Teach your children to never leave school, with anyone unless they check first with you or another trustworthy adult/family member.

The sheriff’s office responds to numerous calls each year for missing children all because of a lack of communication about their travel plans to get home.

Sheriff Jerry Whitehead said, “Starting back to school is an exciting time for children and it is our goal to make sure everyone stays safe.”

Superintendent Carlton Faulk, agrees: “We are prepared for another outstanding and safe school year but need everyone to do their part to work together to keep our children safe.”

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