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School traffic returns to Las Vegas Valley after long hiatus

Updated March 1, 2021 - 10:05 am

Monday marks the first time in almost a year that children will attend classes in person at elementary schools across the valley, meaning motorists will need to be especially mindful when traveling through school zones.

Students in kindergarten through third grade will return to class Monday, with all other grade levels expected to be back in classes by April 6.

“They’re our smallest students, they’re our youngest, they’re the ones we really need to make sure know the rules of the road, the rules of the sidewalk and how to ride their bike and be safe,” said Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft.

Highlighting the urge for drivers to be aware of children returning to class, Andrew Bennett, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, noted that last school year 41 students were hit by vehicles while walking to or from schools.

“One of those resulted in a fatality and three of those (students) were left seriously injured, which resulted in life-changing injuries,” Bennett said. “When we talk about the importance of pedestrian safety, literally lives are on the line.”

Public safety officials remind drivers of the following school zone laws.

— Obey the posted speed limit.

— Do not make U-turns in a school zone.

— Do not pass other vehicles in school zones or those stopped at a crosswalk.

— Give at least 3 feet of space between your vehicle and anyone on a bicycle.

— Stop for pedestrians and bicyclists and ensure they’ve crossed completely before resuming your trip.

Students and parents are also encouraged to plan a route the students will take to school and to wear clothing that ensures they’re visible to motorists. Officials also urge students to be attentive while walking or biking to school and not wear headphones or look at their phones.

Students should also always use a marked crosswalk when crossing roads and cross at intersections when possible. When crossing a road, students are urged to make eye contact with drivers to ensure they’re aware that they are about to cross.

Over 1,600 school bus routes will be in operation starting Monday, picking up and dropping off students. Drivers are reminded to obey the stop signs on the sides of school buses.

Children on buses will be required to wear a face covering at all times and use hand sanitizer when entering and exiting a bus. Buses will be equipped with self-dispensing hand sanitizer bottles. Bus drivers will also have spare masks in the event a student’s breaks.

Buses will be loaded from the back to the front and unloaded from the front to the back.

“Each student will sit in the next available seat and follow seat markings to ensure that our kids are practicing social distancing while on the buses,” CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara said at a news conference last week.

Although school zones have been active even while children were attending classes remotely, many motorists seemed to ignore the posted reduced speed limits.

“We want to make sure that drivers understand that it’s been over a year since we’ve had students on our roads and sidewalks,” Naft said. “This is really going to require a change in behavior and attitudes.”

Helmet giveaway

The Clark County School District Police Department and Jaguar Land Rover Las Vegas are giving away 300 helmets March 6 at Shelly Berkley Elementary.

Helmets will be provided free of charge until they run out of stock from 10 a.m. through noon on Saturday at the school at 9850 Copper Edge Road in Las Vegas. A child must be present with an adult to receive a free helmet.

The giveaway is a drive-thru event, and interested residents are asked to wear a face covering while picking up a helmet.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.

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