The City of Key West, Florida

The Southernmost City in th Continental United States

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Schools Open August 15th

More than 3,000 students will be returning to schools in the Key West area next Wednesday. Sadly, the Key West Police Department is adding a vital message to the reminders surrounding back to school: If you see something, say something. Law enforcement and the school district are working to ensure that our kids remain safe in these increasingly difficult times. Remind your children to tell a teacher or a school resource officer if they see something that doesn’t seem quite right.

Some of the things that kids should be alert for are:

  • Bragging about weapons
  • Bullying or threatening behavior
  • The sudden withdrawal of an individual from their normal social circles
  • Talk of suicide

Whether you have kids in school or not, be ready to adjust your schedule to accommodate the traffic slowdowns that occur when school is in session. Patience is the most important thing that every motorist can bring to the table. It’s worth allowing a little more time to get around to be sure that all Key West kids are safe on their way to and from school.

Here are some child safety tips for parents to keep in mind:

  • If your child is walking to or from school, walk the route with them beforehand. Choose the most direct way, and be sure the route has sufficient sidewalks, lighting and crossing guards. If a crossing guard is absent, be sure your child knows when it is safe to cross the street.
  • Make sure your child walks to and from school with other trusted schoolmates and follows the tried and true axiom, "Never talk to strangers."
  • Teach your kids to obey all traffic signals when walking or biking to school.
  • When biking, be sure your child has a helmet.
  • When waiting for the school bus always stand on the sidewalk, away from the roadway. Always remain seated while on the bus.
  • Be sure your child knows a phone number where you can be reached in case of an emergency.

Being hit by a car poses the greatest threat to any child walking or riding a bicycle to school. As drivers, it is our responsibility to avoid dangerous distractions behind the wheel. Pay particular attention near crosswalks and areas around schools where children could potentially run into the roadway. Don’t text or talk on the phone, it’s not worth the risk of a potential tragedy.

This is a good time to take a look at your own driving habits and review the rules of the road. Florida law prohibits passing a school bus in either direction when it is stopped with red lights flashing. Drivers must also remember to slow down to the posted speed limit in school zones. The Key West Police Department does not tolerate negligent actions that could harm our community's children. Anyone caught passing a stopped school bus or speeding in a school zone can expect to be stopped and cited accordingly.

It is up to each one of us to ensure that our school children are safe. Please do your part and be aware as you drive.