GRPS preparing for safe start to school year

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Public School officials and safety officers are preparing to protect students during the upcoming school year.

At this point, the primary focus has been safety around vehicles and school buses. Larry Johnson, director of public safety at GRPS, said training has been going on for over a week already.

“Our public safety officers … have gone through a variety of training around crisis management, crisis response, restoring practices — we’ve looked at everything we can around components of a safe school to keep our kids safe,” Johnson said.

He asks people who drive near schools be aware of what is happening around them when the school year starts.

“Both to and from school, and on school grounds, drivers must remain watchful. Students will dart out unexpectedly into traffic, and often in between parked cars,” Johnson said.

School buses went on trial runs Monday to prepare drivers and commuters.

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne said everyone wants to avoid a tragedy from happening, and drivers play a big part in that.

“I would just like to remind drivers that speed is one of our No. 1 complaints, it is our No. 1 complaint in all neighborhoods,” Payne said. “Especially with school opening up, be aware of your speed around schools.”

Drivers should obey the flashing red stop sign on buses and wait for kids to cross the street before trying to go around.

Public safety officers are also asking students who ride their bikes to school to make safe decisions.

Bicyclists should always ride on the ride side of the road in single file and check before changing lanes.

“These are some of the things our kids have been doing all summer long, but with the excitement with starting school, these are some of the things that kids need to pay attention to as far as what is going on and how they get both to and from school,” Johnson said.

The first day of school for GRPS is Tuesday.

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