Thousands of households will have a new routine this morning because today is the first day of school in most Tri-City area school districts.
Families will be swapping the summertime schedule for waking the kids up early and getting them out the door for class.
That means the rest of the community needs to pay better attention. Those school zones that could be dismissed over the summer are going to be crawling with children in the mornings and mid-afternoons from now until June.
Neighborhood corners that have been empty for three months will have groups of kids waiting for the school bus. Anyone who happens to live on a school route should be on the lookout for kids walking or biking their way to class. Drivers who end up behind one of the big yellow buses need to be patient, especially when kids are getting on and off.
And don’t forget all the newly licensed, inexperienced student drivers heading off to Tri-City high schools. Be aware there are hundreds of teens driving on their own today, all at the same time.
It is also important to note there will be swarms of kids where there have not been any before — notably at Kennewick’s new Sage Crest Elementary School and the re-located Desert Hills Middle School.
Sage Crest is at 6411 W. 38th Ave., just north of Interstate 82, and is designed for about 500 students. The new Desert Hills Middle School has left its old site on 10th Place and moved to a new building on 1701 S. Clodfelter Road.
The new schools celebrated ribbon-cutting ceremonies last week amid excitement that they are ready for students. However, there is still one concern, and that is the unfinished path to the new Desert Hills Middle School along Clodfelter Road.
City crews have been working feverishly on that roadway near the school, but there is still no sidewalk all the way to the new building, and no shoulder because of construction.
Students who live in nearby Hansen Park are encouraged to take the school bus instead of trying to walk or ride a bike to school. Kennewick school officials are trying to get the word out to parents about the situation, and plan on busing students from that neighborhood for as long as necessary.
Families who live in the Canyon Ranch area near the school can send their children along Ridgeline Drive and cross Clodfelter Road at the school cross walk. There are sidewalks along the way, so that path is safe.
The start of a new school year is a big day for kids. Transitioning to a new routine with new teachers and a new schedule takes some getting used to.
One way the community can help with that transition is to make sure students get to school safely. Remember to slow down in school zones and pay attention to kids walking and biking to school.
We all, at the very least, can help make the start of school a safe one.