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ST. GEORGE — The St. George Police Department on Monday announced the elimination of kindergarten crosswalks, effective Jan. 1, 2022.
This means the city will not be utilizing school crossing guards and will also be eliminating reduced speed school zones at all elementary schools within the city of St. George during the midday kindergarten crossings.
There are currently 13 elementary schools in St. George. Seven of those have an all-day kindergarten, while six have morning and afternoon kindergarten classes, meaning that while the children enrolled in the morning classes are leaving for the day, children enrolled in the afternoon classes are arriving at school. There are 23 crosswalk locations across St. George.
The Washington County School District in September informed the St. George police department of the seven schools that would be transitioning to an all-day kindergarten model. The department then decided to conduct a count of students using crosswalks during the midday transition period to determine if the crossing guards were necessary during this period.
After a week-long traffic study, St. George police concluded that not enough students were utilizing the crosswalks during the midday transition period to require a school crossing guard or a reduced speed school zone.
"Our experience has shown us that traditionally we don't get a lot of kids that actually cross — the most that we got (crossing) was actually five (students), which is half of what is required by state law for us to require a school crossing guard or a reduced speed school zone," St. George police Sgt. Tyrell Bangerter said in a Facebook video posted Monday night.
Drivers will still be required to stop if there's anyone in a school crosswalk regardless of the time of day, but there will no longer be a crossing guard present to enforce this during the midday crossing times, he said.
"We understand this is going to affect the parents of kindergarten-age children, so we want to get this information out to them so that they can make other arrangements to ensure that their kids are getting to and from school safely," Bangerter said.
Bangerter emphasized that the elimination of school crossing guards and reduced speed school zones during the midday transition period will not affect how these crosswalks are protected during the morning when kids arrive at school and in the afternoon when kids are leaving for the day.
"We're not removing the crossing guard or the reduced speed school zone for the morning or the afternoon — this is just for the (midday) kindergarten crossing," Bangerter said.
The St. George Police Department also wrote, "The circumstances regarding this change will be continually evaluated to determine if these locations meet the requirements to have a school crossing guard in the future," in a letter sent to parents of kindergarten-age children in St. George.
Bangerter said that the school district is sending out a survey asking parents of kindergarten-age kids in St. George who's utilizing the crosswalks to determine how many people the elimination may affect.
"Look for that survey and fill it out for us and give us your feedback, your concerns, your comments so that we can make an educated decision on what we're going to do."