On the Way to School

Elisabeth Johnson

Every weekday, students wake up and get ready to go to school. Whether you’re walking, driving yourself or taking a bus, we’re all moving toward the school. Out of all these ways, the students who walk to school are faced with difficult weather and unsafe conditions. The early morning sun shines low, right into the driver’s view, causing impaired vision. High street is mostly used, and the speed limit is 40 mph. With high speed, bright early morning sun and the snow in the wintertime, this could result in a nasty school commute. 

Each morning most of us have the luxury to be warm inside some vehicle on the drive over to the school. For some that live inside that “portal to portal” or the two-mile distance from the school, the kids are not welcomed by a school bus pick up. In the winter the temperatures can get very frigid, and other conditions like rain or snow can occur in the morning. After a big snowstorm storm, the sidewalks are often covered with a good couple inches of snow and possible ice. In 2015, Ipswich suffered from a very harsh winter. There were many snowstorms in a row, which resulted in covered sidewalks, and snow piles on the sides of the roads. The high snowbanks created it difficult for drivers to see around them. Students who have to walk, are forced to step out onto the busy high street and continue on towards the school. 

In an interview with the Principal of Ipswich High, I asked Mr. Mitchell about some of the laws or regulations regarding this problem. He told me that, “By law, cities and towns are supposed to establish their own by-laws about snow removal on sidewalks, so the rules vary by municipality”. For Ipswich, the only rule posted by The Boston Globe states that “the town clears some of the downtown sidewalks and the sidewalks near schools”, provided by the DPW. 

I have walked to school in the past and the roads are very busy and loud. Ice can pile up and create a thick, slippery layer. Every student needs to be safe on their way to school, but accidents can happen. On the way to school I was driving and up ahead I witnessed a car crash involving a teacher. The whole back of the car was shattered all across the road, right near the sidewalk. If a student was walking near at the time of the incident, they could have been seriously injured. The safety of students is the most important. When students are tardy to school because they had no way of getting there, they should not have to pay for their delay by having it on their transcript. There should be some solutions like being more on top of clearing sidewalks before the start of school. Another solution would be to delay the whole school day a couple of hours, to give enough time for the DPW to clear the sidewalks.