A new pickup and traffic plan will go into effect for parents retrieving Bedford Road School students in Pleasantville at the end of the school day when full-time, in-person attendance resumes on Apr. 7.
Because the village and school district must still adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, including social distancing, the Pleasantville Police Department will be closing Academy Street from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. on school days. Parents will have to park nearby and walk to the school to pick up their children.
Until now, fewer students have been attending in-person classes because of the hybrid model due to the pandemic, where social distancing was achievable at dismissal.
Pleasantville Police Chief Erik Grutzner recommended to the Village Board last week the 45-minute closure of Academy Street, explaining how it would reduce traffic backups while maintaining safety for students.
“This will alleviate a lot of the traffic on Manville Road,” he said. “It is back to where it was pre-COVID, but it is still what we need to do to maintain social distancing between school personnel, parents and children.”
Until now, 10 cars at a time have pulled up to one of three school entrances to retrieve students this school year. Grutzner said that although this process was deemed safest for children, it caused delays on Academy Street and Manville Road as the cars cycled through the queue.
Now, because the student population will double with the full return of in-person learning, more cars will back up on Academy Street causing more extensive traffic delays. Pleasantville does not have district transportation.
“There’s not supposed to be anybody parking or stopping up there (on Academy Street) at all,” Grutzner said. “Parents won’t be able to pull up quick and grab their kids. It will be a challenge.”
Village police worked with Pleasantville school administrators to devise the plan. Officials introduced parents to the street closure last week for two days when only half the number of families were still picking up children.
“Instituting the road closure to half the families at a time should ease the community into compliance and provide the opportunity for an understanding of the reasons for the changes,” Grutzner said.
Handicapped parking permit holders can pick up students at the circle closest to the school gym off of Manville Road. Grutzner also said that parents who arrive before 2:30 p.m. can still pick up their children at the usual place and wait until Academy Street reopens to depart.
School personnel will be available to accompany Academy Street neighborhood vehicles from Manville Road or to Bedford Road, he said. The only vehicular traffic that will be allowed during that time on the street will be for people who live there.
Village Trustee Nicole Asquith supported the plan.
“That’s the way it used to be and reverting to that probably wouldn’t be that surprising,” Asquith said of the street’s closure during dismissal. “Even though it’s inconvenient for some people, the fact that you have to walk to pick up children, to me that’s one of those moments in Pleasantville that creates the community we have where people encounter each other.”