SIDNEY — the yellow school buses are back on the road as students return to the classroom for the first time since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And with their return to classes, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart is reminding parents and students pf safety concerns his office sees everyday.
“”There’s nothing normal about going back to school this year,” said Lenhart during his weekly interview. “The pandemic has made everything different.
“We need to get the kids to and from school safely,” he said. “And for a parent, there’s nothing more important than the safety of their children. Drivers need to slow down when they are in a school zone.”
He said 100 kids are killed across the United States walking to and from school within the school safety zone. Half of those killed are 15 years of age and older. Last year, 25,000 students were injured going to and from school.
“Children account for one-fifth of the accidents in a school safety zone, said Lenhart. “The majority of the remaining injuries involve pedestrians who are hit by a vehicle and are adults.
“The incidents where a kid gets hit usually involves an electronic device. The kid is on it while they are walking,” said Lenhart.
The pedestrian and driver are both responsible for looking for where they are going, said Lenhart.
“The ultimate responsibility in a school zone is on the driver,” said Lenhart.
Lenhart said students tend to cross the street “where it’s convenient’ and not in the school zone.
“Eighty percent of students walk outside the designated area,,” said Lenhart. “And one in three parents use unsafe behaviour by dropping their kids off in a non-drop off area.”
He said the speed limit in school zones is 25 mph.
“If a person is going 25 mph and they have to stop suddenly, it will take them 56 feet to stop. If they are going 35 mph, it will take them 95 feet to stop,” said Lenhart. “That’s why the speed limit is so much lower.
“Drivers should assume children are present whenever they see the school zone signs,” he said. “And always obey the speed limit.
To drivers, he said, they should never be on a cellphone while driving, use the drop off zone and never pass a school bus that has its stop arm deployed.
To students, he asks them to cross at posted cross walks, to look both ways before crossing the street, turn off their electronic devices and obey the crossing guard if their school district has one.
“I hope they all have a full year of school,” he said.
Lenhart said of the staff who had been affected by the COVID-19 virus, eight are back to work. Three are still off of work but he expects them to return to work next week.
The new booking room at the jail, he said will be ready the first part of October for use. He said there are currently 89 inmates at the jail. People charged with nonviolent misdemeanor or felony cases are not being jailed at this time he said. Anyone with a violent felony charge will be put in jail.
“We are trying to control our population to keep the virus out of the jail,” said Lenhart. “Every sheriff across the state is doing the same thing.”
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.