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Back to school safety: Keeping students safe while going to and from school | #schoolsaftey

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — The first day comes with new outfits and new school supplies.

While the students may be ready to get back to class, the first thing you have to do is get them there safely.

A cross still hangs outside Hoover High School nearly a year after student Rashad Al-Hakim Jr. was hit and killed while crossing the street in front of the campus.

The driver who hit him was later charged with murder because investigators say she had drugs in her system at the time of the crash and had a previous DUI conviction.

Al-Hakim’s death was one of more than a dozen incidents involving people, mostly students, being hit by vehicles in the Fresno Unified School District.

The majority were minor incidents, but it was enough to get the district’s attention.

“It’s unacceptable for our families and our students. When you go to school, you should be safe and make it home safely,” FUSD Chief Communications Officer Nikki Henry said.

Henry says during the 2021- 2022 school year, there were four incidents. During the 2022-2023 school year, that number spiked to 17.

“So that huge uptick was really red flags and bells and whistles for all of us that we needed to do something,” Henry said.

In hopes of combatting the problem, the district released a public service announcement on its social media and on local television stations.

Superintendent Bob Nelson alongside other superintendents, Mayor Jerry Dyer and Chief Paco Balderrama asking people to be “street smart.”

Safety concerns were also addressed directly with students on campus.

Posters and banners went up around school sites.

New this year, the FUSD board approved an increase to the safety budget.

That will fund 15 pilot schools in the district for a “Safe Routes to School” study.

“That’s a national standard on how you can really assess the safety around your schools and how you can better the safe routes for your students coming and going from your schools,” Henry said.

The results will give the district recommendations on how it can increase safety.

The goal is to eventually have the study done at every school in the district.

In the meantime, they’ll have staff keeping a close eye as students come to and from school.

They’ll be working in partnership with the Fresno Police Department.

“We will be enforcing. We will be issuing citations for violations,” Fresno Police Sgt. Todd Turney said.

FPD is starting the “No Recess for School Safety” initiative, which will dedicate motor officers in and around schools during drop-off and pickup times.

Officers will be looking for parents dropping off their kids in the middle of the road, speeding, and people disobeying the law.

Officers remind drivers to slow down and put the electronics away.

“So being constantly aware of your surroundings, not crossing the middle of the roadways, make sure you get to the crosswalks – to the designated areas – that are crossing so that you’re safe, secured, and able to help yourself out,” Sgt. Turney said.

Officers will be around schools as kids go back to class to educate and enforce the law.

The district says it will take a community effort to help keep kids safe.

“This is a school zone — pay attention to our kids, let’s be careful, let’s get them safe to and from school,” Henry said.

Police encourage parents to have a conversation with their children before they head back to school about how to safely get to and from campus.

Authorities say that includes the kids who are waiting at a bus stop.

They say kids playing too close to traffic becomes dangerous, so have the talk sooner than later.

For news updates, follow Jessica Harrington on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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