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Oakdale Students Return To School
Look Both Ways
bts traffic 1a
Close to 5300 students from TK to high school seniors reported for the first day of school on Wednesday, Aug. 10. Principals from varying sites reported no major traffic incidents, but motorists are reminded to take extra care when traveling through congested school zones. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

On Wednesday, Aug. 10 Oakdale Joint Unified officially began the 2016-17 school year. As school bells began ringing at 7:40 a.m. at Oakdale High and East Stanislaus, one without school aged children may have pondered where all the traffic had come from.

Approximately 5300 students are registered to attend OJUSD campuses this school year. A staggering number when taken into account that the number of students reporting to the various campuses are separated by barely three miles in distance. With Oakdale Junior High the farthest east and Fair Oaks the farthest west, ensuring student safety is of the utmost importance for weekday travelers.

Principals from varying school sites reported the first week, while only three days, went smoothly, and in some case smoother, than expected. Several noted leaving the house early as one of the top items for those short on time or needing to be at another destination in a given amount of time.

Fair Oaks Elementary School Principal Kathy Pinol shared she was very pleased with the first week of school, noting drop off and pick up were “smooth despite the huge amount” of traffic.

“My most important suggestion is to be patient,” Pinol said. “Parents who are in a hurry tend to create the biggest frustrations for everyone. Making U-turns, cutting corners, passing unnecessarily just to get a car ahead, just creates chaos and angers other drivers.”

Each of the elementary school site principals urged traffic safety and awareness as students vary in size and sometimes are not seen easily. Students also have a tendency to not be as alert or aware, they said, as the youngsters often make the assumption all drivers are looking out for them and or abiding by traffic laws.

“Understand that the adult crossing guards are just trying to keep everyone safe,” Magnolia principal Janet Hamby said of early morning traffic and those trusted to keep the order. “Don’t stop in the middle of the road to unload. It is very dangerous for the children. Pull to the curb so children can exit safely.”

Drivers are also reminded that parked cars are not permitted in the load/drop off zones. That’s a violation which tends to be recurring at many of the elementary campuses and can result in a parking ticket. There are no exceptions to this guideline.

“Drop off becomes congested because parents are stopping in the middle and holding traffic up behind them,” Oakdale Junior High Principal Jon Webb stated, adding the campus offers the length of the parking lot as a drop off option for parents. “Drop off works best with pulling to the side or parking in one of our slots. There, parents can give their child the time they need to collect backpacks and say goodbyes.”

A ‘bell schedule’ list for all sites may be found on the district website: