Wednesday August 31, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
As families ramp up for the return to in-class learning, the Sooke School District SD62 is promoting the idea of walking to school.
For many years, many students have been driven to school by parents, or have taken SD62 school bus transportation, or have used public BC Transit bus services. Many students also choose cycling or rolling to school.
While some parents still have concerns about student safety while walking to and from school — not to mention their child’s comfort in inclement weather — SD62 is pointing out the benefits of getting to school on one’s own steam.
Safety concerns include the actual walk itself in relation to vehicle traffic and surface conditions, but also the lingering worry about personal safety in relation to the behaviour of strangers.
The 2022-2023 academic school year commences on Tuesday September 6, after this upcoming Labour Day weekend.
Capping bus transportation:
SD62 is also hoping to cap its offering of school bus transportation at the present level, and not increase the number of buses or routes. This is for budget reasons, as the school district serving west shore families continues to grow.
Expenditures include not just the buses themselves as a capital procurement but also the staffing with bus drivers (there have been staffing shortages in recent years) and overall administration of the bus transportation program.
SD62 has indicated that rural routes will not be impacted. Their capping of service is aimed at urban higher-density areas.
School buses do not have seat belts, which is also a concern for some parents who therefore opt to drive their kids to school where distance is a factor.
Walk to school safety tips:
Walking to school is being encouraged by SD62, especially when students are considered to be resident ‘within walking distance’.
Here are the walk-to-school recommendations as posted in social media by SD62 this week:
- Map it out. Plan your child’s walking route, review street names and landmarks while walking together. Quiz your child on traffic signs whenever using marked crosswalks, crossing lights and intersections. Create a game to encourage your child to follow your footsteps.
- Get back to the basics with these simple safety tips: 1. Look left-right-left and shoulder check before crossing. 2. Make eye contact with drivers and keep looking for approaching vehicles while crossing even in marked crosswalks.
- Listen. Remove your headphones so you can hear approaching traffic that may be hard to see.
- Be seen. Wear reflective materials or bright clothes and use lights after dark or in poor weather conditions such as rain.
- Walk on the inside edge of the sidewalk away from the road. If there’s no sidewalk – walk facing oncoming traffic, so you can see approaching vehicles.
- Always use crosswalks and follow the pedestrian signals.
West shore & Sooke:
The Sooke School District (SD62) delivers public education to families in the west shore and Sooke areas. Schools are located in Langford, Colwood and Sooke. Students arrive to school from both short and long distances, from within Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin, and west of Sooke out to Port Renfrew.
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke is the editor and founder of a series of publications that have focussed on news of the west shore of south Vancouver Island since 2008. That journalism contribution has produced an archive of great value to the local and regional communities, including a deep archive of SD62 news since 2014.
MapleLine Magazine was a quarterly colour glossy (2008-2010), followed by the weekly grayscale print newspaper Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and then the colour weekly print/PDF newspaper West Shore Voice News (2014-2020). The Island Social Trends news portal emerged mid-2020, fully online for open access to all readers.
Ms Brooke holds a B.Sc. in health science and community education, with a second major in Sociology, as well as her Certificate in Public Relations. She holds a major journalism award from the University of Saskatchewan, and fully composed the inaugural curriculum in Writing for Business and Journalism for the Western Academy of Photography which graduated several successful communications professionals through the 1990s. Island Social Trends has offered a journalism scholarship to SD62 grads in recent years.
Mary P Brooke is running for a seat on the SD62 school district board of education in the October 15, 2022 election.