Following the proper safety procedures for picking up students from school ensures that whether students walk, ride bikes, take the bus, or carpool, they are safe and any traffic risks are minimized.
Safety Procedures for Picking up Students
Parents should take different safety precautions when picking up students based on when and how they are picking them up from school.
If a student will be leaving school early, the parent will need to sign them out at the school's main office. This ensures that the individual picking up the student has the proper authorization to do so and helps prevent strangers from checking out children. Most public and private schools will have authorizations forms on file in the office, and parents should regularly update these forms to ensure that everyone who may need to pick up the child - a daycare provider, neighbor, or other relative, for example - will be allowed to do so.
Most parents pick up students by driving or carpooling, and these safety tips can help make navigating the often crowded, confusing school parking lots easier and safer.
- Avoid driving in the bus lane or bus zone.
- Stay in designated pick up areas as directed by school personnel. Do not arrange to pick students up on side streets, staff parking lots, or other areas that may not be as safe.
- Yield to pedestrians, crossing guards, and buses, and be aware that children who are walking home may not look both ways before venturing across a parking lot or pick up lane.
- Be sure to drive the proper direction through parking lots and nearby streets - some schools may convert streets to one-way traffic when students are leaving.
- Obey all local speed limits in school zones. This is often no more than 15 to 20 miles per hour on nearby roads and 5 miles per hour in parking lots and pick up zones.
- Always pick students up at the nearest curb and do not encourage them to cross parking lots to reach the car.
- When waiting for students to be released, pull all the way forward on the curb to allow other cars ample room and minimize driving around.
- Use turn signals when entering and leaving the pick up areas and check blind spots carefully.
- Once students are in the car, make sure their seatbelts are fastened immediately. Injuries can occur even from slow-moving crashes and fender benders, particularly for young children.
- Do not dally once students have been picked up - other parents are eager to pick up their children and moving quickly and efficiently can help keep the traffic flow more consistent.
Parents who pick up their children to walk home should also follow established safety procedures to ensure that no accidents occur.
- Designate a meeting place near the school's entrance but away from traffic areas.
- Hold young students' hands while crossing streets or while near pick up areas with moving traffic.
- Follow responsible pedestrian behavior, including using crosswalks, obeying crossing guards' instructions, and checking carefully before crossing streets.
Tips to Make Picking up Students From School Safer
All parents, whether they are walking or driving, can participate in several types of safety procedures for picking students up from school to ensure that everyone can leave school safely and easily.
- Arrange carpools if possible to minimize traffic near the school.
- Volunteer to help teachers and administrators direct traffic during peak pick up periods, or volunteer for crossing guard duties.
- If possible, avoid scheduling medical appointments or non-school activities immediately after school ends to minimize rushing.
- Try to pick students up five or ten minutes later to avoid the worst traffic congestion.
- Teach students to be responsible pedestrians and discourage horseplay and other dangerous behaviors near the pick up area.
Most important, parents should be patient, respectful, and courteous to other drivers while they pick their students up from school. Anger and frustration can lead to careless, unsafe behavior, and being a positive role model can help students learn safe procedures.
Finding Your School's Safety Procedures for Picking up Students From School
Most schools have established safety procedures for picking up students from school that parents can request. Informational packets may include maps of the parking lot and designated pick up areas - which may vary based on grade level or dismissal time - as well as safety tips, emergency procedures, and other helpful hints. Ask in the school's main office for this information, or contact the school's PTA for detailed guidelines. The school district may also have specialized policies. Every school has slightly different procedures and parents should be sure to update their files each year to ensure the best possible safety for their students.