Riverbank High School administrators implemented a parking lot change to the front parking lot at the Claus Road school that started on Monday, Oct. 14. There have been many concerns from staff, stakeholders, and some parents regarding the heavy and often haphazard traffic flow of vehicles and students in the parking lot during the morning student drop offs and the after school pickups. The front parking lot will now close from 7:50 a.m. until 8:10 a.m. daily and again from 2:50 p.m. until 3:10 p.m. and then reopen for business as usual. The main concern the administration has is safety for the students that walk through the parking lot.
According to RHS Principal, Diana Jiménez, she met with all the stakeholders like the Director of Maintenance, Operations and Transportation; a resource officer; Assistant Principal Rebecca Evans, who is in charge of security for RHS; and all the teachers, and the one thing they all mentioned was the traffic jam in the front parking lot.
“So it’s funny because there are things that every stakeholder brings up that are specific to them and this is the one issue that just kept coming up in every single group,” said Jiménez. “This is a proactive thing.”
Fortunately, there have not been any accidents at the high school but Jiménez and Evans have both seen some really close calls. Jiménez explained that the issue is that at times when parents enter the parking lot they line up in front of the school, instead of parking to drop off their children and they cut across the parking lot instead of going all the way through to the turn. Parents have narrowly escaped vehicle collisions due to the congestion and the traffic during those hours, which has prompted the safety concerns of the RHS staff.
As the students travel through the parking lot, several of them were walking with friends, talking on cell phones, or texting while vehicles maneuvered between them.
The front parking lot has been closed before but then it was reopened. The plan is to only close the parking lot during those peak morning and afternoon times and the rest of the time the parking lot will be open. If the public has business with the school they can still use the front parking lot. Jiménez expressed that this is only a trial period, during which time they will be researching the situation and collecting feedback.
The administration has strategically planned the parking lot change by using the district’s auto dialer to notify parents and have passed out flyers. They have also placed reflective tape on the gate to make sure that it is visible for everyone to see during the two time frames the gate is closed, which is before school and after school.
“Our campus monitors have been giving the parents the notices and all of them have so far have been fine with it,” said Evans. “It’s about student safety, that’s what it’s all about.”
Parents and students will have full access to the student parking lot that is on Patterson Road behind the school near the tennis courts and is not the parking lot for Head Start. Jiménez stated that they will have signs at the entrance and exit of the student parking lot. The student parking lot will be open during school hours and school events.
The situation may change after the trial period is over, but until then parents and students will have to go through a little bit of an adjustment during the morning drop off and the after school pickups.
For safety’s sake, school officials hope it’s an adjustment they are willing to make.