JES traffic issues worked out

Cars line up to drop off students before school at Jasper Elementary on Tuesday. Marlena Sloss/The Herald


JASPER — The first day was rough.

As parents lined up outside Jasper Elementary to drop off and pick up their children on the first day of school on Aug. 12, school staff struggled to keep the car line off Portersville Road. About two weeks later, Jasper Elementary Principal Kent Taylor said, the issues have been resolved.

On Friday, school staff had the roughly 180 cars loaded and on their way in about half an hour.

“I think we’re doing pretty well on that,” he said.

The first-day struggle was expected. The novelty of dropping students off at a freshly opened school building coupled with the influx of car rides due to COVID-19 had school staff contending with more car riders than usual. As the school year has gotten underway, Taylor said, the number of car riders has tapered off a bit, but the average is still around 150 cars a day, about 40% more than he would expect on a normal school year.

To manage the influx of car riders, Taylor and his staff quickly implemented assigned parking spots for parents in the afternoons. That helped load the cars faster, he said.

The Greater Jasper Consolidated School Corporation also developed Operation Pull-Up, which encourages parents to pull up closer to the car in front of them as they line up outside Jasper Middle School, Jasper Elementary and Ireland Elementary to pick up and drop off their kids.

You may not think so, Taylor said, but pulling up just a couple more feet can make a big difference.

“Parents are hugging the bumpers, and that’s helped,” Taylor said.

Overall, the corporation has been impressed with how quickly the transportation hiccups that always accompany the beginning of a new school year have worked themselves out. At the school board meeting Monday, Glenn Buechlein, assistant superintendent of support services and transportation, said the traffic issues at the corporation’s four schools worked themselves out quickly thanks to the hard work of each building’s staff.

The bus routes are also off to a smooth start for the most part. Drivers have established seating charts as part of the new COVID-19 safety precautions, Buechlein said, and the cleaning after each route has been integrated into the workflow. Running the routes themselves is also going smoothly. Currently, Buechlein reported, most of the corporation’s students are off the bus before 4 p.m.

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