The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
LAST OF AREA SCHOOLS ARE READY TO REOPEN
BY LINDLEY ESTES
School opens Tuesday for seven school districts in the area.
Fredericksburg, Colonial Beach and the counties of Stafford, Caroline, King George, Westmoreland and Orange begin their academic year after the Labor Day holiday.
Louisa, Spotsylvania, Culpeper and Fauquier counties school systems started classes in August.
The end of the vacation season also means tougher rush hours.
TRAFFIC JAMS AHEAD
The Tuesday after Labor Day is always hectic on area highways. Workers returning to jobs, combined with the back-to-school traffic, is expected to cause delays for D.C.-area commuters, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Transportation planners expect congestion to increase by 26 percent in September, with people returning to work after vacations and with school back in session.
The back-to-school travel delay is greatest during the morning commute, and AAA advises drivers to plan accordingly.
AAA recommends that commuters set their alarm clocks at least 30 minutes earlier starting Tuesday to account for traffic congestion.
The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office will hold a “School’s Open Campaign” Tuesday through Friday.
The campaign is an effort to remind motorists that school is in session and to be mindful of posted speed limits in school zones, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office.
Additional deputies will be at the 30 schools in the county throughout the week.
School bus drivers are also taking part in the campaign. If a car does not heed the flashing lights and a deputy is not available, the drivers will write down tag numbers of offenders and notify the Sheriff’s Office. A deputy will then go to the homes of the drivers and speak with them about traffic regulations around schools.
The speed limit in school zones is 25 mph. The only school zone that does not have this limit is at Drew Middle, where the limit is 35 mph because if its location on U.S. 1. The reduced speed limit in all school zones takes effect from 7:10 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. to 4:10 p.m. every day that school is in session.
The final bells at Stafford County elementary schools will ring 10 minutes later than they have previously, extending the amount of instructional time for students.
The schoolday will end at 3:40 p.m. instead of last year’s 3:30 p.m.
The extra 10 minutes will allow the elementary schools to hold nine days in reserve in case school is canceled for unforeseen reasons such as inclement weather.
All Virginia school divisions are required to offer 180 days or 990 hours of instruction per year. Since recess and lunch are not considered instructional time, only three makeup days were available to Stafford elementary schools this upcoming year before the bell schedule change.
No high school or middle school in Stafford will experience any change in the bell schedule this year.
Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976