By: Rafeea Tamboli and Pranav Nair
As students got onto buses and cars to go to school in the beginning of January, they did not expect anything out of the ordinary. They would wait a couple of minutes in a line, pull up in the front of the school, get out, and head to class before the bell rang. However, starting around January 8th, things changed. Lines were exponentially longer. Students left from their houses at their regular time but ended up in school 15-20 minutes later because of the new traffic pattern.
Now, when students and their parents enter school grounds, they are greeted by a flashing sign that says, “Student Drop-Off” with an arrow pointing towards the senior parking lot. The police car and policemen that stood under the sign during the beginning of January have now been replaced by Mr. Al Moon.
The new traffic pattern, which consists of parents merging with the lane towards the senior parking lot and then heading into the loop to drop off their kids, is actually not new. The loop was originally intended to be used for morning parent drop-off while the front of the school was to be used solely for buses. “The idea of separating cars and buses is really a pretty traditional thing…Buses are usually higher [than cars] and its harder [for bus drivers] to see people walking on the ground. We’ve had some close calls…We certainly don’t want to start our day off with somebody getting tapped by a bus or car,” said Dr. Dauber.
In order to help enforce the regulation, High School North’s administration called upon the Plainsboro Police department. Police officers stood outside of the school, directing cars towards the proper sides of the parking lot. Sergeant Brett Olma of the Plainsboro Police department said, “Dropping off students in front of the school, with the exception of special needs students, was never permitted this school year. Students and parents were advised of this in August/September; however, the message went largely unheeded.”
Students seemed to understand the purpose of the policy. “The new traffic rules are supposed to promote driver and pedestrian safety by diverting all drop-off traffic to the side of the school,” said Junior, Martin Long. The new policy seems to be mainly affecting students getting dropped off by parents and seniors. “I usually go on the bus so I am not affected [by the new traffic pattern], but when I miss my bus, I get caught in the 60 km traffic jam in front of the school,” added Long. While students recognized that the new traffic loop is intended to promote security, some think that the policy is not effective.
Students also pointed out a major effect of the increased morning car congestion: the long lines outside of Mrs. Susan Kocher’s office. High School North’s unique layout—consisting of only one entrance and one exit—juxtaposed with the fact that North and CMS start at the same time results in long lines of cars filled with students trying to get to class on time. “You become even more late by having to get a late pass. We had to excuse people who were 20 minutes late every day because the line was so ridiculously long and I don’t think that problem has really been solved. Now, [getting a late pass] has just become an ineffective practice,” said Junior, Ishana Goyal.
Dauber mentioned that High School North’s administration, along with the Superintendent, David Aderhold, are creating a new alternative plan. “I’ve had some communication with the superintendent. Without revealing anything, our plan is to make an adjustment as soon as is feasible,” said Dauber. Although specifics were not mentioned, Dauber reaffirmed that nothing is set in stone and policies may change with time.