Parents concerned over child’s walk to school

22News took that concern to the superintendant's office

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP)– Many students across western Mass. are officially back in school but not all parents are feeling good about how their child is getting to school. 22News found out what some of those concerns are and what parents can do about them.

This is just one of several high traffic area’s in Holyoke, Viviana Dejesus’s 10 year-old daughter walks to school everyday.

“I’m terrified and I want my daughter to be safe going to school and coming home and I want to keep my job, I want to keep a roof over our heads,” Dejesus said.

22News took that concern to the superintendant’s office, and here’s what we found out:
Like many Western Massachusetts cities, with Holyoke’s neighborhood schooling system, a student’s walk to school is based on how far the student lives from the school. So, high school students that live less than 2 miles away will be required to walk. Middle school students who live less than 1.5 miles away and elementary school students who live one mile away or less are also asked to walk.

When safety issues come up with that walking route, they will reevaluate, and in some cases decide if a crossing guard is needed. Say the parent is complaining about a busy intersection or a busy road on the child’s walk to school. The superintendant’s office told me that they would then evaluate whether or not that intersection had a crosswalk or that road had a sidewalk.

But the Holyoke’s School Committee’s Vice Chair Devin Sheehan told 22News Dejesus’s case is unique, since she moved homes in 2011, they now live outside the required geographical zone of her school in order for her to take the bus.

“At certain points family’s move and we allow them to stay in the zone or school they started in but we do say that transportation needs to be provided by the parent or guardian,” Sheehan said, which Dejesus says is a challenge with her work schedule.

Sheehan also said, safety is their priority and that it is critical parents reach out to their local school committee representative to get help resolving their concern.

You can do that by going to the Holyoke School Department website, and clicking on “school committee” or by calling (413) 534-2005.

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