A rainy day, power outages and traffic congestion didn’t dampen the spirits and smiles of the students returning to school Thursday morning.
Despite the dreary weather, parents and children alike were all smiles as they waited for the doors to open at Robinson Elementary School August 2.
But the frenzy of the first day of school regardless of the year can be summed up in one word, “chaotic,” according to seasoned elementary school mom, Delaine Stewart.
“Our power was out last night so I wasn’t able to get anything prepared beforehand so I had to do everything this morning,” Stewart said as she waited by the front of RES with her daughters Morgan and Mary. “So I got up at 5 a.m. trying to make lunches, get dresses out and all that fun stuff.”
An early morning and a rush to get everything ready for the big day didn’t seem to faze Morgan, 8, and Mary, 10, who couldn’t wait to go back to school to see their friends.
Morgan, who is entering third grade, wants to be a teacher when she grows up and hopes that this school year will be “fun.” Her fifth grade sister, Mary, has big aspirations for her careers of choice too.
“Either a doctor at the hospital or a dentist,” she said. “And a marine biologist.”
This year the start times for Dawson County schools were
staggered, allowing for the elementary schools to begin their days at 8:10 a.m.
which gives parents more leeway to drop their older children off at the middle
“It’s been really helpful,” said RES principal Page Arnette. “Those parents who have middle schoolers because it’s so far away had more time to get here and the junior high and high school has cleared out before we start.”
But with any change in schedule, there is a learning curve for the first few days of school as parents learn their new routines.
“A lot of parents come the first day regardless of the time but we did have more parents, a few parents show up way too early and we don’t open until 7:50 a.m.,” said school counselor Lance Stiffler as he directed bus riders into the school.
Bus driver Rhonda Edwards also saw some adjustments on her route that she hopes will be better by the second week of school as the community adjusts to the new start times.
“I have a lot of parents though that leave for work at 6:20 a.m. to be down there by 8 a.m. so they had to rearrange their whole morning schedule,” Edwards said.
As with every start to a new school year, a common complaint is the traffic congestion but the staggered start times should help to alleviate the buildup of cars in the county.
“It’s always terrible on the first day,” said Brittany Goss, who wasn’t fazed by the traffic congestion as she said goodbye to her first grader and kindergartener.
Safe Schools Coordinator Tony Wooten, who was making his rounds to the campuses, said that it’s hard to tell on the first day of school how traffic will be moving forward.
The board of commissioners approved to fund additional traffic control officers to help traffic flow smoothly at all seven campuses, rather than having the school resource officers directing traffic.
“I think what’s going to help is we funded the traffic control so that the SROs could be in the schools in the mornings moving forward so that should provide a safer environment for not only in the schools but for traffic control at every location which I’m excited to see that get installed,” said Dawson County District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines as he dropped off his three sons.
Additional security presence in Dawson County schools has been of the utmost importance for both the board of education and the sheriff’s office who worked together to fund additional SROs so that each campus will have a full time officer on site.
“We’re excited to have SROs back in schools and doing our best to keep them in the schools,” said Sheriff Jeff Johnson as he greeted parents and children at RES. “It makes a difference.”
Also an additional safety measure installed over the summer, the buzz-in system, will help keep all Dawson County campuses more secure.
“We’re really excited about it. It keeps our kids safe,” said Arnette. “I think it’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment for parents but you know, our parents want their kids to be safe so I think for the most part they’ll appreciate our efforts.”