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Back to school: As summer vacation ends officials emphasize safety

A school zone speed monitor flashes as a driver passes through the area. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

A school zone speed monitor flashes as a driver passes through the area. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: July 31, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 31, 2014) -- Although not everyone will be happy to return to school and say goodbye to summer vacation Aug. 5, officials stress it is important that everyone – students, teachers, parents, housing residents and employees – stay safe when heading to and from facilities this year.

To help keep students safe this year, Fort Rucker Primary School and Elementary School are implementing ways that will help parents feel more at ease while their children are away engaging their brains.

One new method at FRPS is the School Check-In Program, a computer-based program that provides teachers and staff a simple and easy way to use check-in and checkout procedures for students, volunteers and visitors, said Deborah Deas, primary school principal.

“We will be able to track when and why students are late and print the admittance slip for the classroom teacher, track when and why students leave early and print a slip for teachers, provide badges that state the name of visitors and location in the building, as well as total hours for volunteers, and keep permanent information records and generate instant reports on student tardiness and early releases that affect attendance and student learning,” she said.

Even though this new program will monitor students’ comings and goings, Deas said that parents are still required to bring and meet their children every day at the bus stop.

“This is important so parents and children may get acquainted with the bus drivers and provide a safe, secure environment for students as they begin something new,” she said.

She added that it is very important for the students to know the following safety measures while riding the bus: remain seated while the bus is moving, don’t throw anything from windows, listen to the adults on the bus and be a friend to fellow students.

For parents that drive their children to school, Deas said that they should be dropped-off and picked-up at the back of the school.

Vicki Gilmer, Fort Rucker elementary school principal, also had safety tips for the older students.

“Timing is huge for the elementary students. Students need to arrive at campus no earlier than 7:25 a.m.  unless they are eating breakfast. Breakfast eaters may come on campus at 7:15 a.m.,” she said.

Arriving right on time is perfect, said Gilmer, and gives the students plenty of time to get to class before the 7:45 a.m. bell, which is when instruction begins.

It is best not to have students hanging out across the street waiting as the area across from the school is not a supervised area and children tend to get into mischief, she added.

Marcel Dumais, chief of police, agreed.

For some children, the novelty of going to school is very exciting and being with all their friends may make them less inclined to follow rules, he added.

“I would ask parents to be familiar with the child supervision matrix, Garrison Policy Letter 13-39, and if your child requires supervision please accompany them to school,” he said. “As always, if you see something that isn’t right, report it.”

This year, FRES is revamping its morning broadcast and will be using a new format that helps promote “The Leader in Me” for all FRES students. This new format will help all students to be, not only academically successful, but also positive and productive in many leadership traits, said Gilmer.

Deas is looking forward to the 21st century opportunities that will continue to be offered at FRPS.

“New schools that are being built now are utilizing the pod or neighborhood concept within the school for increased learning opportunities.  This is the model that we offer all students,” she said. “We also offer IPads in classrooms for students, as well as computer stations and smartboards. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics also plays an important role in preparing students for a productive life.”

Gilmer said she is excited to see the students and their Families – both returning and new.

“It is so amazing to work in a climate where students, teachers and staff are all so focused on positive outcomes,” said Gilmer. “We look forward to continuing with our team-like goals and strategies. We are really able to achieve because we focus on success for all, and everyone feels like a part of the FRES Family.”

Even though during early morning and afternoon school-zone commutes an officer is stationed at the intersection in front of FRES to direct traffic, Dumais said all community members should take extra safety precautions to keep Fort Rucker youth safe.

“Parents and motorists should be alert for children walking and riding their bikes to school in the mornings and from school in the afternoons,” he said. “Be alert for children crossing the streets, they may not be paying attention to on-coming traffic, not looking before they cross or obeying pedestrian rules.”

He suggests that parents get to know the school routes with their children and walk with them to school for at least the first week.

This article was originally published at

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