BY BRYAN MCKENZIE
firstname.lastname@example.org | 978-7271
A hand-written note threatening the safety of a Charlottesville school will have police and officials on alert as classes start anew on Wednesday.
Rosa Atkins, city school superintendent, said police were called Tuesday to Clark Elementary School to investigate a threat made in a hand-written note left at the school.
Atkins said administrators take any threat as “serious and credible” until it can be determined otherwise.
“In consultation with the police, we have decided to open schools as scheduled tomorrow and to hold all normal activities, including recess and before- and after-school programs,” Atkins said in a prepared statement. “As a precautionary measure, each school will hold a security drill during the day.”
Atkins declined to say what security measures the schools and police would take during the day and declined to reveal particulars of the threatening note.
“Please be assured that we are working closely with the Charlottesville police and taking measures to keep our staff and students safe,” Atkins said. “I’m sorry to begin the school year on this note, but we will look forward to seeing students.”
The threatening note aside, officials from the schools to police departments to Mid-Atlantic AAA are asking motorists, parents and kids to be cautious as both city and Albemarle County schools go back in session.
Although no threats were reported in the county schools, police officials say there will be additional personnel.
“For the first day of school on Wednesday, the [Albemarle County police] will have additional officers monitoring areas around the schools and along bus routes,” said Carter Johnson, county police spokeswoman. “School resource officers and patrol officers will be on hand to help direct traffic and ensure a safe commute for the start of the new school year.”
“The first days of school are here in parts of the commonwealth, and as hurried children rush to the bus stop, we are reminding motorists to slow down and drive distraction free,” said Haley Glynn, of the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education.
“Drivers attempting to multitask on their way to work, including cellphone conversations and text messaging, put excited children in harm’s way at bus stops in area neighborhoods,” Glynn said. “Though it is basic safety knowledge, drivers need to stay on the look-out for these young children, avoid driving distracted, and slow down.”
With the big yellow school buses hitting rush-hour roads, with frequent morning stops to pick up students and afternoon stops to drop them off, officials are asking motorists to be on the watch.
“A bus with red flashing lights activated and the extended stop arm out indicates that the bus has stopped and that children are loading or unloading,” Johnson said. “Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing and the extended stop arm is withdrawn before proceeding.”
If traffic lanes are divided by a median, traffic flowing in the opposite direction of a stopped bus need not stop, according to Virginia law; however, traffic following the bus must.