The beginning of the school year of 2020-2021 was different. Because of COVID-19 and all the setbacks the pandemic caused, many parents decided to keep their children at home. Instead of meeting up with friends, having lunch at the cafeteria, and just playing around on a daily basis, the school routine became nothing more than a few faces on the screen of a computer or cell phone.
Thanks to the vaccine, the school year of 2021-2022 is finally getting back to normal.
Normal, when it comes to school zones, includes many people on the streets and traffic. The traffic as we know and we don’t necessarily love.
For the sixth year in a row, Oakland Park Fire Rescue has been actively involved in our “Schools Open Drive Carefully Campaign”. It is focused on the three Oakland Park elementary schools and is conducted for the first three days of school. Working closely with our deputies in the Oakland Park BSO district, this program brings awareness to those in and around the school zone.
Oakland Park Fire Rescue will be at all three elementary schools encouraging drivers to be alert going through school zones and teach kids how to safely cross the street.
First Day of School: Parents Give Their Feedback
Oakland Park Fire Rescue has put staff and trucks to help drivers and pedestrians and, according to some parents Living in Oakland Park had a chance to talk to, the initiative has been a success.
According to Melina Sedam, whose son attends North Andrews Garden, OP Fire Rescue was helped guide traffic. “There is always people trying to go the wrong direction or not been careful of the walkers. When I exit the school, one firefighter was making sure the cars were exiting the school safely, since there were so many kids around”. The presence of a fire truck made her 5th grader son a little scared, but after an explanation, he understood the importance of the presence of the firefighters. Still, according to Melina, the line took longer than usual, but it went well.
Nina Solorzano, PTO member and mom to a 5 year-old from Oakland Park Elementary, shared very positive feedback: “Since Fire Rescue implemented it a few years ago it has been great. The kids see it as a huge welcome back party. Lights, sirens, and super friendly faces. It also was a good reminder for the parents as not to park in certain areas, so no illegal parking happens when they are present. It also shows the community a full show of support for our kids and staff”.
“That photo was taken when I picked up my nephew at North Andrews School at 2:46 arriving on 6th Ave in front of NE High School. I was only able to pick him up at 3:30 pm, almost one hour to enter!”. This feedback was given by Idalia Stevens.
According to Tía, the cars do not respect everyone who wants to enter at the same time and the first day of school is busier than usual. “We must organize ourselves more and be more patient”, said Idalia. If everyone respect the traffic laws, things will be much easier.
Oakland Park Elementary Schools Get Help from Fire Rescue
Until Friday, August 20, Fire Rescue will be at the schools in the morning. Check out the schedule:
Basic Tips We Can't Forget
- If you’re driving behind a school bus, allow more distance than if you were driving behind a car.
- Stay alert for flashing lights and the stop sign on a bus. Yield to the children and do not pass on either side. Resume driving once the bus resumes its route.
- Obey school zones speed limit.
- Avoid passing another car in a school zone.
- Guards are there to help. Respect their instructions.
- Do not park anywhere outside the parking lot.
A Safe Place to Walk and Drive
“The intent is to enhance child safety and driver recognition in our community”, says Fire Chief Stephen Krivjanik. As stated by the Chief, as drivers approach the schools they see a heightened awareness and can recognize the foot traffic and activity around the school property.
He also mentions this program provides an additional layer of awareness and protection for the parents and students arriving and departing the school. “Oakland Park Fire Rescue firefighters assist the school crossing guards and we place our vehicles, lights on with a large banner on each truck. a great reminder that school has started and children are in the area”.