Polk County Schools focus on security, pedestrian safety for new school year | #schoolsaftey

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — The first day of school arrived Friday in Polk County, and students, parents, and educators are all excited for what the new school year will bring.

“It’s exciting to get the school year started. It’s great seeing all their smiling faces coming in,” said Dart Meyers, Principal of South Pointe Elementary.

About 115,000 students are enrolled in Polk County Public Schools. Meyers is the principal of the brand-new South Pointe Elementary. He said the new campus will help with crowded classrooms as the county sees a population boom.

“Chain of Lakes, Garden Grove, and Pinewood are already hitting capacity and over capacity, so it’s to alleviate those schools. That’s the reason why this school was built in this area because of the expected growth and the growth we are currently having,” Meyers said.

New this school year, the district is adding walk-through metal detectors on campuses to screen students for weapons.

Briana Derousse’s daughter is starting school for the first time. She said safety is top of mind.

“You never know what people bring onto campus, so the security checks, I think, are a good idea for the safety of our kids and students,” said Derousse.

Last year, several students were hit by vehicles, including one student who lost his life. “Extra care, getting there” is the district’s new initiative, focused on keeping kids safe as they travel to and from school.

“Our students throughout the year are going to have specific studies, classes, and lessons that will go into these types of tips. They’re age-appropriate, so for our young ones, there are very specific ways that we are going to teach them to be safe,” said Jason Geary, spokesperson for Polk County Public Schools.

The public safety campaign is also urging residents to drive slowly around and to be vigilant around school zones.

“Unfortunately, some adults don’t respect the road, especially when they see children walking, so it’s a necessity. I would prefer it if they had a cop at every corner during school hours if it were possible,” said Christina Narvaez.

The district’s transportation call center is now open. Parents with bus-related questions can call the center at 863-534-7300 from now until Friday, Aug. 18. The temporary call center will be staffed on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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