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School Bells Ring Across South Florida

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MIAMI (CBS4) – The long summer break has finally come to an end as more than 600,000 students in Miami-Dade and Broward County head back to class for the first day of the new school year.

“If anyone has jitters, it’s usually parents and maybe some kids, but mostly parents,” said Blanche Forman, principal of Blanche Forman elementary school in Davie.

At Mae M. Walters Elementary School in Hialeah, it was a time to see friends and enjoy a visit from the Miami Heat Xtreme Team and Heat mascot Burnie. They helped distribute free school supplies from the Office Depot Foundation.

“That really helps out parents,” said Yolanda Valls. “Some of our students may have some challenges in buying supplies. Now, they’re giving them everything they need and then some.”

Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the first day of school is as much about the parents as it is about the kids.

“Feed your kids well. Insist that they be respectful and responsible for their actions. Those folks who are out there driving on the streets, drive slowly, the speed zones are going to be active and our aggressive driving units will be out there enforcing and ticketing with fines for those who disrespect the safety of our kids,” said Carvalho.

It wasn’t just mom’s who were taking their kids to class Monday morning. Thousands of dads took part in the million father march, accompanying their kids to class.

“It means so much to have father in a child’s life not just for them for kids who may not have a father at home,” said Otha Thornton, president of the national PTA.

Across town at North Miami Beach Senior High School, freshman Dorothy Alexis received a computer for a class called I-Prep. The class seeks to combine technology and education.

“We’re in a ever-changing technology world,” Alexis said. “I think it would be great if I could get an outlook on it and learn how to use the technology now as I get older, so it won’t be older to me.”

All total, more than 250,000 kids will be attending school by next year in Broward County alone.

As school is now underway, drivers are urged to watch out for kids walking to school or riding their bikes and abide by posted limits in school speed zones. Speeding fines in these zones can range from anywhere from $156.00 to more than $600.00.

Police officers positioned in school zones will also be looking for drivers who park where they are not allowed and that all students on bikes have the necessary bike helmet.

There are other tips for drivers, parents, and students to keep everyone safe as they get to work and school:

  • Drivers are also urged to watch for school buses. The red flashing lights and an extended stop arm indicate the school bus is stopped to load or unload children. State law requires you to stop.
  • Keep an eye out for children walking in the street, especially where there are no sidewalks. Be alert for children playing and gathering near bus stops and for those who may dart into the street without looking for traffic. When driving in neighborhoods or school zones, watch for young people who may be in a hurry to get to school and may not be thinking about getting there safely.
  • Parents should always make sure the kids are buckled up and avoid texting or talking on the phone while driving. They should also supervise young children as they are walking or biking to school or as they wait at the school bus stop.
  • Students should always remove their backpack before getting in the vehicle; never buckle the safety belt with a backpack on. Law enforcement agencies urge all parents to place the kids in the back seat – it’s the safest place for young people.
  • Students who walk to school should use a sidewalk when available, look left-right-left when crossing the road, and always walk facing traffic. Always cross at crosswalks, obey all traffic signs, traffic lights and crossing guard instructions.
  • Teen drivers should avoid speeding and minimize distractions (texting, talking on cell phones, eating, adjusting the radio) while driving. Teens are also reminded never to overload their vehicle; everyone riding in a vehicle must use a safety belt.
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