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Welcoming Back Our Students in a New Way

Sep 02, 2020 11:06AM ● By Editor

Photo: Safe Routes to School Facebook page

From Safe Routes to School - September 2, 2020

Some of our local students will be back in school soon, while others will be distance learning or utilizing the essential childcare programs.  Whatever learning mode students participate in, many will be out walking, biking, and enjoying the fall weather.  The Safe Routes to School Committee (SRTS) works year-round to make it safer, easier and more enjoyable for children to walk and bike to and from school. In the upcoming weeks, Slow Down and Smile lawn signs, an additional speed feedback sign, and school zone speed and crosswalk enforcements will be at work to remind our community to drive carefully to keep students safe. 

Walking or biking to school is a small way to provide a piece of normalcy in students’ lives during these uncertain times.  An easy option for getting students walking or biking to school is to utilize the newly designated park and walk location at the Cook County Community Center.  It is an easy spot to park and walk to school with your student or drop them off to walk to school, depending on the age of the child and your family’s comfort level.  Park and walk sites are an effective way of minimizing congestion in front of schools as well as getting students’ brains and bodies active and ready for learning!  Being outside and physical movement is proven to increase physical and mental well-being for us all.

To encourage safe walking, we recommended that you pick a route with your child and test it out together. Once a student and parent/guardian set a route, it is best that the student follows it consistently so that an adult knows where the student is traveling. The SRTS recommended walking route map is on your school’s website or available upon request from the SRTS Coordinator. Please note that the crossing guards that are usually out at ISD 166 will not be in place this fall.  The SRTS Committee is working on replacing these crossing guards during the ISD 166 distance learning program, but there is no solid plan as of today.

Another important piece of Safe Routes to School is school bus safety.  Please be mindful around school buses.  Over the last school year, there was an average of 1 stop arm violation per week.  Remember that you must stop at least 20 feet away from a school bus that has its stop arm out and red lights flashing.  You will need to wait until the stop arm is up and the red lights are no longer flashing before you can move forward.  Please help us keep our students safe this year!  

The SRTS committee will not be organizing a group event for International Walk to School Day on October 7th or the weekly Walk and Roll Wednesday events due to the pandemic.  We hope organized events can resume later in the school year, but we will wait until it is safe to do so.  The SRTS committee does encourage you to get out walking as much as possible in honor of student wellness!  

For more information about Safe Routes to School, to volunteer, or for a Slow Down lawn sign, contact SRTS Coordinator, Andrea Orest, at 218-877-8262 or [email protected].  You can also follow us on Facebook at

*Please note that the Safe Routes to School committee, Minnesota Department of Health, and Statewide Health Improvement Partnership work together to encourage walking and biking to school, but do not assume liability for anyone’s commute to or from school. 

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