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Marshall PD placing extra patrols in school zones; district asks drivers to be aware

(WRDW)
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 9:55 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - As students, faculty and staff are back on campus at schools across Marshall ISD, the district and police are reminding drivers to be safe in and around school zones and bus routes.

“We have to be vigilant to remind ourselves that schools are back, that we don’t get distracted,” said Marshall Police Chief Cliff Carruth. “We see a lot of distracted drivers, we do our officers working traffic in all the school zones. Our number one goal is to keep our children safe.”

Chief Carruth says MPD officers are heavily patrolling school zones and working areas near the schools to keep students safe during their commute to and from school. He says there will be zero tolerance towards drivers who choose to ignore the school zone regulations and school bus traffic laws. Dozens of citations have already been given out to drivers.

Earlier this week, the Texas Department of Transportation released a reminder of school zone safety tips and school bus tips. Texas law mandates drivers to stop when a school bus extends its stop sign or turns on its flashing red lights. When a school bus is stopped, drivers traveling on either side of the road must come to a complete stop. This will allow our children to safely board and un-board a school bus.

“There are a lot more kids on the road,” Carruth said. “Parents are driving their kids. We are seeing a lot more traffic at the schools. Our officers are focusing on the schools zone during drop-off and pick-up. We also have to remember the bus stops, children walking to and from school or the bus stop. Just be vigilant, pay attention, and stay off your cell phones. If you are looking at a cell phone you are not looking at where you are going. Pay attention to the signs as well. There are no parking zones set up at the schools and they are there for a reason: to protect the children. Sometimes it makes it less convenient. For example, at our junior high we have had people doing U-turns and dropping off out on the highway. We’ve had some very near misses of children almost being struck.”

The Marshall City Council also approved a new ordinance earlier this year authorizing the “No Parking – in designated areas” to include the east and west side of the 1500 and 1600 block of Pecan Street, adjacent to the Marshall Early Childhood Center. MPD says this new city ordinance will enable buses to safely enter and exit the school.

“For drivers going through school zones, our biggest thing is to stay alert,” Andy Chilcoat, assistant superintendent for Auxiliary Services for Marshall ISD said. “Know your surroundings. We have students that may dart out in front of traffic that are excited to go home or go to school so it’s on the drivers to be aware of the buses and students in school zones. Our biggest problem is cell phones and distracted driving.”

Chilcoat says bus drivers are working hard to keep the buses clean and keep children safe.

“From hand sanitizer to spraying the buses down before an after routes as well as making sure that before students get on and off the bus that the traffic as stopped,” Chilcoat said. “They will not open the doors until they know it is completely safe.”

With several of the district’s elementary schools being located in residential areas, many parents walk their children to those schools. He says they haven’t had any problems so far, and that parents have designated areas at each of the campuses.

“Our first few days back have been really good,” said Chilcoat “We have had a lot of participation from students, enrollment is up, attendance is looking good right now. We know students and parents are very happy school is back face-to-face.”

The district has seen a lot of parents who want to drop their students off at school instead of having them ride the school bus, which Chilcoat says is typical for the first few days of school. He says parents can expect the car lines to be a little bit longer for a few days and asks them to be patient.

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