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Help keep students safe

A lot of kids look forward to the start of school, and we can remember anticipating some of the better parts of going back to class — catching up with friends we hadn’t talked to in a while and renewing athletic rivalries with neighboring cities come immediately to mind.

But we always regretted having to give up the freedoms we had enjoyed during the summer, and we never liked the annoying practice endorsed by many parents, including our own, of having our bedtime moved up and being awakened early for a week or so before the first day of school so we would be prepared for the real deal.

Later on, we came to appreciate the wisdom of preparation, of planning ahead to make sure that big events don’t catch us by surprise. It’s always good to give folks a little warning that things are about to change.

So consider this as a warning.

Many area school districts, including Denton, are scheduled to start the new school year on Monday, which means that big changes are in store on city streets and area roadways. School buses will be making their rounds in the mornings and afternoons, and warning lights on school zones will be flashing. Crossing guards will be helping youngsters navigate some intersections on their way to class.

It’s easy to forget about such things during the summer, and we don’t want the flashing lights of a big yellow bus making a stop or a school zone along your route to catch you by surprise.

You can be assured that police officers and state troopers are prepared for the start of school, and they’ll be out in force to make sure that motorists observe traffic rules. Speeding in a school zone or passing a bus while its warning lights are flashing both carry expensive penalties, but that’s not the main reason why we want you to be aware of the kids’ return to class and the need to exercise extreme caution behind the wheel.

The life of a child is precious, and no one wants to cause an accident that might result in a youngster’s death or injury. It’s easy to get distracted, to get in a rush to reach the office and forget that school zones are back in force. Most of us have grown impatient and fumed and fussed about slow-moving buses ahead of us in traffic.

But we owe it to our students to be patient, to leave early so we’ll have plenty of time and to make sure that the way is clear before we proceed.

Like we said, a lot of kids are excited about going back to school, and that means that they may not be paying strict attention to where they walk or cross the street.

If you drive near a school, you’ll probably see a lot of kids rushing around, along with school buses loading or unloading and parents’ vehicles lining up to drop off or pick up their children.

And don’t forget that Texas is one of the states that prohibit the use of hand-held cellphones in a school zone where warning signs are properly posted.

So be aware that your typical driving conditions will likely change on Monday. The laws designed to protect our children in school zones, on buses and in crosswalks are in effect for a good reason.

Motor vehicles and children aren’t an even match, and it’s up to you to make sure that our kids are given safe passage on their way to and from school.