As traffic problems persist, should school hours change? Norwalk is seeking feedback from parents.


NORWALK – The school district is asking parents to complete a survey to determine how it can improve traffic flow around its school buildings during arrival and dismissal. Families said they experienced significant delays in dropping off and picking up their children in the first days of the new school year.

Norwalk Public Schools are monitoring the effect of the new start times, approved in October 2019 and adopted for the 2020-21 school year. Further planning and traffic assessments were due to take place in the spring of 2020, but schools have become completely remote due to COVID.

Even with the start of the school year last year, fewer children were attending classes in person and “the real impact on arrivals and layoffs was not visible,” according to the district. published on his Facebook page Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, COVID has halted some of the detailed planning and traffic assessments that would typically have been completed in the spring of 2020, before the schedule change is implemented,” the post read.

The family survey asked parents if the district should change its start and end times to ease traffic, how long families would need to adjust to any potential changes, and a brief response on the impact of delays on families and their children.

The Board of Education approved the new back-to-school hours after a committee conducted an 18-month review of health research and data on the impact of back-to-school hours on high school students. The committee was made up of community members, parents, teachers, administrators and medical experts, and was supported by a school transportation consultant.

The start times for high schools have been extended from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and minor changes have been made to the start times for middle and elementary schools.

In the first week, the time changes appeared to have the biggest impact on schools along Highland Avenue, including Brookside Elementary, Roton Middle School, and Brien McMahon High School. Schools are located within a mile of each other and their start times fall within 40 minutes of each other.

The district also attributed these traffic problems to more parents driving their children to school, new students getting used to bus routines, and drivers bypassing unexpected crashes and construction detours.

“The volume of traffic is typically higher each year during the first few days of school, when many parents like to drop their children off for the first or two days. Backups generally decrease as the week goes on, ”Brenda Wilcox Williams, chief of staff and communications said Thursday.

Williams said the district had worked with individual schools to make arrival and discharge procedures more efficient. The district is also working with the city and the police department to adjust traffic where bottlenecks have been identified.

“We will continue to review any delays so that we can remedy them with appropriate action,” said Williams.

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