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Editorial: School resumes soon; watch for little ones

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The Johnson County fair ended only last week, and already it’s time for the kids to return to school.

Blame more balanced calendars for what seems like an ever-earlier start for the academic year. If you plan longer fall and spring breaks, adjustments have to be made elsewhere in the calendar.

Center Grove and Clark-Pleasant start classes Tuesday, and the other districts follow over roughly the following week.

It’s not too late to contribute to Fast Track, the Johnson County United Way program that distributes school supplies to local low-income students. Stuff-the-Bus events are planned for Aug. 9 in Franklin, Greenwood and Trafalgar. Distribution of supplies has been staggered and based on when various schools start classes.

We’ll take this space and moment to remind motorists to be extra alert as children return to school, walking along area streets and roads, and boarding and exiting those big, yellow school buses.

Similarly, parents should be sure to remind their children of the need to stop and look both ways, be sure not to dart out between parked vehicles or in front of their school bus, be sure to follow other safety rules and remember not to distract their bus drivers.

And motorists, remember to obey state laws that govern school buses, stop arms and the need to stop when arms go out. Those red lights that flash ahead of the stop arm coming out don’t mean that you should step on the gas and drive like heck. They mean stop. So stop, and wait.

Stopping for school buses isn’t simply a good idea. It’s also the law. A violation can carry a hefty fine, and area school bus drivers and video cameras are watching for — and reporting — stop-arm scofflaws.

Here are some school bus safety tips to keep in mind:

First, it is always a good idea to arrive at the bus stop a few minutes early. This keeps children from rushing to the bus stop and also keeps the bus on schedule. Be sure to wait for your bus in a safe place, well off the roadway.

Stay in your safe bus stop area until the bus comes to a complete stop. Once the bus has stopped and the driver opens the door, enter the bus in an orderly manner, single file, and be sure to use the handrail.

Remember that the bus driver is always in charge and to be sure to follow their instructions. Be courteous to the driver and your fellow passengers at all times.

Once you get to your seat, remain seated, facing forward, while the bus is in motion. Always keep your head and arms inside the bus at all times and keep the aisles clear.

Loud talking and laughing diverts the driver’s attention and could result in a serious accident, so be sure to remain quiet and orderly.

When you leave the bus, be alert to traffic. If you are crossing the street, always cross in front of the bus. Take five giant steps in front of the bus so that you can see the driver’s face. Walk out to the edge of the bus, then stop, look left-right-left, then cross.

Let’s be careful out there.

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