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East County Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 9 months ago

Law causes change to student pick-up at Braden River Elementary

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Law banning hand-held devises in school zones forces Braden River Elementary to change its procedure.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Although Braden River Elementary School parents and staff members have made adjustments to their dismissal procedures as a result of a new law, many aren’t bothered by the changes.

As of Jan. 1, people cannot use handheld communication devices, such as cellphones, while driving through school or work zones.

As a result, Braden River Elementary was forced to make changes to its pick-up system. The school is in its second year of using the PikMyKid app, which allows parents to “announce” they are at the school by hitting a button on the app.

Each student is assigned an identification number. When parents arrive for pick-up, they announce their arrival through the app to let the school know they are ready to pick up their students.

Because of the new law, the school has changed its procedures to have each parent hang a sign in their car with their student’s identification number on it, so a staff member can log the arrival on a tablet and notify the school.

“So the only big change is we’re taking the device out of parents’ hands, possibly when they’re in a vehicle,” said Joshua Bennett, the school’s principal.

Bennett said the transition from the app to the signs has been smooth. The school is dismissing about 400 students who get picked up by car within 15-20 minutes.

“I’ve not had any complaints or concerns about it,” Bennett said. “I think [parents] see it’s probably for their safety and for their students safety too.”

Krista Francies, the assistant principal, said Braden River was asked to pilot the PikMyKid app three years ago but didn’t at the time because the school was having Wi-Fi issues outside. Once the issues were addressed last year, the school implemented the app.

The app helps keep students safe. Students sit in the cafeteria and wait for their name to be called before going outside to the car rider line or parent walk-up area.

“I feel it’s safer because now we have all the students in the building at dismissal,” Francies said. “The only students that are being dismissed outside the gates are the ones getting in a car.”

Parents are also able to make changes to their student’s dismissal through the app. For example, a parent can pick up a student early from school and notify the school through the app rather than calling the front office and then have the office interrupt class to notify the teacher.

Bennett said the new law has actually helped to clear up issues the school and parents were having with the app.

Some parents would announce their arrival at the school even though they were still driving to the school, which would cause a mix up in the order of students being picked up.

The law also solved the issue of the app not always working.

Paula Roeterdink, a parent of a fifth grader, said cell reception isn’t always available by the school, so she wouldn’t be able to announce her arrival even though she was moving forward in the car rider pick-up line.

The change in dismissal procedures doesn’t bother Roeterdink. She arrives early and doesn’t touch her cellphone or other devices when driving. Roeterdink said she likes that she continues to have the ability to change her pick-up mode in case she decides to be in the walk-up line rather than pick up in her car.

Roeterdink added that she is happy with the law change because she’s seen people on their phones while in school zones.

“I think it’s great because we see a lot of people on the phone, and it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt,” she said. “I’m all for it.”

Evelyn Corona, a parent to a kindergartner, said she didn’t really use the PikMyKid app, and since the changes have been made, she hasn’t noticed a difference in the amount of time it takes to pick up her daughter.

Corona arrives at the school about an hour early, and once the bell rings at dismissal, she only waits about 5 or 10 minutes for her daughter, Valerie Arreola, to get to the car.

For parents who arrive early and need something to do while they wait for dismissal, don’t worry. As long as the car is stationary, people are allowed to use their cellphones and other devices.

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