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Updated: 08/15/2013 08:00:39AM

School opens Monday, extra caution urged

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Children across Highlands County will begin an adventure in learning Monday when school bells ring to signal the start of the 2013-2014 semesters. Some of those youngsters may not be eager to hit the books while others embrace education.

For many students, school is also the center of their social lives. Especially for younger students, the start of school brings with it the opportunity to reconnect with friends they might not have seen much of during the long, hot days of summer.

No matter their outlook on the start of a new school term, children from pre-school through high school will be on the sidewalks and roads.

The first day of school is certain to be filled with distractions, from nervous first-day jitters to the excitement of seeing friends and meeting new classmates. Drivers must be alert for children who might forget the rules of safety and dart from a parent’s vehicle and into traffic; the children who cross the street while distracted by the excitement of a new school year; and, of course, other drivers who might themselves be distracted by new routines.

Adding to the confusion for drivers will be an extensive repaving and street widening project underway along West Interlake Boulevard, a key traffic artery handling traffic for three schools –– Lake Placid Elementary, Lake Placid Middle and Lake Placid High.

When it is completed, the road project will bring much-needed traffic relief to the area surrounding the three schools. The project was scheduled to be completed during the summer months when school schedules would not be an issue. Mother Nature had other ideas, dumping an almost daily deluge of rain. Road crews aren’t efficient in rain-soaked weather. The result is widening and paving of West Interlake Boulevard will be in high gear just as a new school year starts.

The added anxiety of traffic slowed by road construction is certain to be a distraction. All the more reason to use extra care as our children begin this new adventure in learning.