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Back to School Safety

Even though learning is happening from home for many students this fall, it’s still a good idea to keep your eye out for school buses and kids on bikes.

Young child with pen and notepad learning remotely from home watching a laptop.

Now that Labor Day — the unofficial end of summer — has come and gone, students all across Virginia are heading back to classes, and parents are figuring out how to navigate the COVID-altered educational landscape. One thing is for sure: school definitely looks different this year as many kids, including those in Hopewell, Richmond, Petersburg, Chesterfield, and Henrico, are kicking off fall with remote learning. And while some districts are offering in-person learning options, there’s always the chance that COVID could keep those students home from time to time, as was the case in the Hanover County public school system this past week, when several employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and in-person learning had to be temporarily suspended. Uncertainty seems to be the only thing we can be sure of this fall.

We all know that remote learning can create all kinds of challenges for families — learning and working from home is rarely easy — but one unintended benefit of so many kids attending school from home is less traffic on the roadways, and less traffic tends to mean fewer car accidents. In fact, the number of car crashes that have happened over the past 12 months in Virginia is about 10,000 lower than the previous 3-year average. And as eager as we all are to get our routines back to “normal,” perhaps we can think of this as one silver lining to COVID disruption.

Yes, many things look different this September, but as we all ease into our new fall routines it’s still a good idea to keep in mind that even though you may be seeing fewer school buses and not as many students walking or riding their bikes to school, it’s always smart to be vigilant about driving safety, especially whenever there may be kids around. Most bus-related accidents involve young kids who are walking and are hit either by the bus or by a motorist who is illegally passing a school bus. Remember, it is always illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children! And kids on bikes may assume that drivers can see them, even when that’s not necessarily true, and many aren’t aware that cyclists are supposed to follow the rules of the road and signal any turns, so be extra-alert to young bikers.

This back-to-school season is unlike any other that we’ve seen, but let’s all do our part to make it a safe and healthy return to school for all!