by Dr. Richard Canfield
We would like to extend our appreciation to Sandwich Police Chief Peter Wack, Director of DPW Paul Tilton and Sandwich Public School employees and associates who worked together to develop a new traffic pattern to effectively and safely handle the anticipated increase in automobile and bus traffic at the SHS/STEM Academy this year. We value the input and cooperation of many people with years of experience and expertise as we have developed a new plan.
The opening of the STEM Academy on the SHS campus has created the need to look at the traffic patterns differently and has provided the opportunity to address multiple long-term safety concerns. Once again, we have worked as a team with town officials to create a new approach for the benefit of all.
Students in grades 7-12 will be riding the bus together and will exit the buses in front of the school. The front was the original bus loop from years ago and is designed for turning buses. Students will enter through doors designated for the STEM Academy and for Sandwich High School and will be guided to their separate parts of the building by teachers and staff members.
Automobile traffic comes from teachers and staff, students, and parents dropping their STEM Academy or SHS students at school. Staff and students who will be parking in the SHS lot will now enter directly into the parking lot entrance and parents dropping off students will enter through the main driveway entrance. For the opening days, members of the Sandwich Police Academy will be present to direct and retrain drivers to the new pattern.
Officer Christa Cabral, SPS School Resource Officer, will be present at the southern entrance and exit (formerly gated) to direct student traffic. Scrub trees were removed between the north and south entrance to improve driver sight line for improved safety.
In considering the cars that enter to park in the SHS lot, a decision was made to designate specific areas for students, staff and visitors. The team identified a need to divert foot traffic involving student drivers, who in the past had to dodge around moving vehicles as they walked from parked cars to the school. A wide solid yellow cross walk will now provide a safe path for students.
Parents driving students are directed to use the main entrance and drive straight to the driver drop-off loop near the cafeteria. A school security guard and members of the administration will be there to greet both STEM Academy and High School students dropped off by parents.
STEM Academy students will travel from and to the drop-off location to the STEM Academy through a designated corridor that wraps around the back of the auditorium. Newly named The STEM CORRIDOR, it will be used only by 7th & 8th grade students as they travel to the cafeteria and music at any time of day. High School students will not be using The STEM Coorridor.
In an agreement with the teachers union, teachers will be in prominent assigned locations to supervise all students at both drop-off and pick-up locations. Our administrative team will monitor and adjust any aspects of the plan as the we gain day-to-day experience and feedback.
There are 12 buses servicing the schools. They will begin to arrive at 7:45, and will unload students and go. Teachers are required to be on duty by 7:45 to supervise. In the afternoon the buses also use the front loop but in the reverse direction for safer loading and exiting. Students will be guided to their buses, which will be parked in the same spots to make it easier for students to find. This procedure is the same as what has been in place at Forestdale, Oak Ridge and Wing and will be comfortable and familiar for students.
The new protocol was explained to parents at the STEM Academy Orientation last week and will be explained to SHS students at the opening of school.