School crossing guards are on duty this week as students return to classes.
Students throughout Pinellas returned to classes Monday morning, as law enforcement agencies urged motorists to use caution when traveling near schools and crosswalks.
School start times range between 7:35 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. The school day ends between 1:35 and 4 p.m. School crossing guards will be present at 186 school crossing posts, from as early as 6:20 a.m. to as late as 5 p.m.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office advises that students walking or biking to school become familiar with where their crossing guards are located and understand they are able to approach the guards for assistance if needed.
Deputies recommend that parents teach children best practices when it comes to crossing the roads. Children should be taught to watch for cars, turn lane traffic and make eye contact with drivers. Children riding their bikes should always wear a helmet.
Brad Dykens, public education officer with Seminole Police Department, said early morning hours are the most dangerous for school children with the congestion of workday commuters and limited issues of the early morning/dawn hours.
“Please be extra vigilant,” Dykens said.
Clearwater police ask that motorists obey school speed zones and keep an eye out for school buses that have stopped to pick up or drop off students. PCSO deputies remind motorists that vehicles are required to come to a full stop when approaching any school bus displaying a stop signal. Motorists must remain stopped. Vehicles are prohibited from passing the bus until the stop signal has been withdrawn.
Deputies will have extra patrols on the streets near school zones to ensure students are safe during their first week back. Drivers are asked to add a few extra minutes to their morning and afternoon commute and to exercise caution.
Units from Seminole’s Fire Rescue will be setting up outside local elementary and middle schools and will promote safe driving and awareness. Fire Rescue vehicles also will be parked along roadways with emergency lights on and crews will be waving safety message signs.
Pinellas County School District is the seventh largest in the state and 26th largest in the state. Nearly 104,000 students pre-kindergarten through 12th grade are enrolled, plus another nearly 20,000 attending adult education and technical education classes.
The district’s headquarters is at 310 Fourth St. SW., Largo. Call 588-6000 or visit www.pcsb.org for more information.