Senior Jazmin Montiel was shocked to see the traffic jam outside of Riverside on the first day of school.
“I waited for so long, like fifteen minutes just to get in,” she said.
Montiel wasn’t the only one late to first period. It’s taking much longer for Riverside’s car riders to get dropped off and picked up this year.
There is a huge increase in car riders this year because of the pandemic. As a result, it took students much longer to get dropped off and picked up from school.
15.5 percent of the 206 students who took a recent Pirates’ Hook survey reported arriving between 9:00-9:10, and 16.8 percent were waiting approximately 20-30 minutes to arrive during the first week of school.
Exiting the school at the end of the day was even worse. The first day of school traffic was routed just like previous school years, with students entering and exiting from the school’s main entrance (Rose of Sharon Road in front of the practice field). But after the first day, principal Leslie Kinard decided it wasn’t going to work.
The second and third day of the first week was different. Parents parked their cars in the junior parking lot. Parents who arrived later were to go through the regular roundabout section located in the front of the school and exit passing the football field and the bus lot. Students had to walk around the sidewalk instead of through the walkway to get to their car.
Traffic directors and Riverside administrators decided that this wasn’t working, either, and that it was taking even longer than the first day. Nearly 20 percent of survey respondents reported leaving between 4:30-4:40, and another 15 percent said they left later than 4:40.
Assistant principal Will Okun directs traffic at the Riverside’s main entrance. He wasn’t expecting it to be such a major role.
“With this job you kind of never really know what to expect,” Okun said. “You know as each year there are different needs. So different needs cause different priorities. Part of the nature of the job is just seeing what needs to be addressed and just trying to address it.”
Riverside SRO Stephen Mills also manages and directs traffic on campus. After experiencing the first week of school, Mills also believed something needed to change.
“I left an hour later, and I had to do something about it,” he said.
Mills sat down with Okun and Kinard and drew a new traffic map. They brought the new plan into play on the first day of the second week of school.
Parents are now entering the school at the end of the day through the main entrance and exiting via Luther Road and turning right onto Rose of Sharon. Drivers looking to turn left on Rose of Sharon are encouraged to take Hillandale Road instead.
When entering campus, drivers are only allowed to go two ways: into the junior parking lot to park, or through the roundabout. All roads are one-way except inside the junior parking lot. Exiting traffic is one way unless you are leaving out of the junior parking lot.
Students report much shorter wait times now. Nearly 8 percent of survey responders said they are getting into school on time now. Another 8 percent said they’re arriving between 9:00-9:10. 13.5 percent are now leaving no later than between 4:30-4:40.
“It has calmed down,” Jazmin said.