Black Mountain Primary updates walking policy

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Kaycee Eckhardt started a petition to allow parents to be able to walk their students to Black Mountain Primary School.

Black Mountain Primary School has changed its walking to school policy.

The update comes after nearly 200 people signed Kaycee Eckhardt’s petition to change petition, though Eckhardt said the change was made before she had the chance to speak with the school.

Buncombe County Schools Director of Communications Stacia Harris said the policy was communicated to parents Sept. 29 and went into effect Oct. 3.

“The change was made in consultation with the school safety team, school advisory council and school improvement team,” Harris said in an email. “The change also includes clear parameters to keep students and parents safe in the vicinity of the school. Safety and security are our top priorities and our plans and procedures are modified as resources become available and input is gathered from staff, parents and stakeholders."

Eckhardt said she felt good that the policy had changed and the school and principal heard what she and other community members were saying.

“I think they began to hear very loudly that this was a community value and not just a desire of a couple of parents,” Eckhardt said. “They were willing to accommodate accordingly which I think is really great.”

The updated policy asks for volunteers to “open car doors, stand near entrances and help families cross busy streets” because of “limited staffing.”

When parents arrive with their children walking, they must walk all the way to the front doors of the school and use sidewalks and crosswalks when available.

During dismissal, which the school said is much busier than arrival, walking students will be held in one classroom until the appropriate adult comes to retrieve the child with a yellow tag. The tag, which will have the students name, must be presented to the teacher on duty in order for the student to be released.

Eckhardt said she is glad the school was able to come up with a compromise.

“I think it’s worth saying that respectful advocacy works when it’s followed up with conversations and collaboration with the school,” Eckhardt said. “The school was willing to hear the community and also just really lean into working on the logistics and working on all the details that it takes to create a safer system. I’m really grateful they were able to find a solution that accommodates their concerns about safety and our concerns about the environment and family and community.”

Black Mountain Primary School has updated its walking to school policy, now allowing parents to walk their students to school.

Below is the full new policy sent out to parents from Black Mountain Primary:

In an effort to help accommodate parents who live or work within walking distance from Black Mountain Primary, the school improvement team with input from stakeholders has devised a plan to reinstate walking.  In order to ensure all safety parameters are covered, we ask the parents/community to consider the following:With limited staffing in the mornings and afternoons, please consider volunteering to open car doors, stand near entrances, and help families cross busy streets.  Contact the office to volunteer.During morning arrival, parents must walk their children all the way to the front doors of the school.  Please use sidewalks and crosswalks when available.  Afternoon dismissal is much busier than the mornings and we need to take a few extra steps to ensure students are being released to an appropriate and approved adult.  When we dismiss our 1st bus students at 2:30 pm, we will also dismiss walkers to room 300 (located in the first grade building).  A staff member will be there to help dismiss those students.  Parents will need to approach the room using sidewalks around the rear of the school (N. Charlotte St) or from Ridgeway Avenue.  Foot traffic does not need to travel through the car traffic at the front of the school.  Parents/guardians will line up down the sidewalk that is behind the first grade building.  The yellow tag with the student’s name must always be presented to the staff member before the child is released.  If the adult picking up the child does not have a yellow tag, they will be asked to go to the office and provide identification.  Walkers will depart the same way they arrive as to not have foot traffic and car traffic in the same areas.  Students will have a brown walker tag on their bookbags.  Please do not remove these.To respect nearby businesses, please do not park in their lots as well as on the side of the road in an effort to avoid the car line.Please refrain from congregating after picking up your child.Children must always be accompanied by an adult.A signed permission form/agreement must be on file in the office in order for a child to be a walker.