Drivers be on alert: Kids heading back to school

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First day of school for tens of thousands of students Monday (WTVD)

Monday was the first day of school for tens of thousands of students around our state. So officials are reminding the public, it's not just kids and parents who need to get prepared for this week. Drivers need to be extra alert as well.

The first day back got off to a bumpy start when a car rear-ended a school bus around 7:15 a.m. in front of Holly Grove Middle School on Avent Ferry Road, near Cass Holt Road in Holly Springs.

Authorities said about 30 students were headed to Holly Springs High School when the accident happened. It caused minor damage to the bus, and no students were injured - but they were delayed going to class.

With kids heading back to school that means more buses on the road, so officials say be aware and slow down. And if you see the extended stop arm come out, be prepared to stop as kids get on and off their buses.

North Carolina School Bus Stop Law

Also remember, some buses are now equipped with cameras that can catch your license plate if you pass a stopped bus, leading to a $500 fine and possible jail time.

Of course, most important is keeping kids safe, so they can focus on their studies, especially when they already have a mix of emotions heading back to school.

"I'm kind of nervous," admitted seventh grader Chatton Freeman, although he later said he was excited, too.

About 30,000 students alone returned to school in Durham County Monday morning, and they were even welcomed back with a new program called "Breakfast on Us."

"Every student who comes to Durham public schools today will have breakfast before they come to class," Durham School Superintendent Dr. Bert L'Homme told ABC11. "It's very important, because children when they get to class ready to learn, they won't be hungry and they'll be just ready to go and the teachers are there ready to receive them."

In Wake County, School Superintendent Dr. Jim Merrill greeted students returning to class, and said transportation is always a concern at the start of the school year.

"We tried to improve the efficiency, both budgetarily - the budget has been reduced from the state and local pressure to fund it - in addition, improve the efficiency in terms of can we shorten ride times for students...some bus stops are too close together," he told ABC11 before the start of the school day. "So really, processing improvements and trying to make things better all around - that's what it's been about."

All Cumberland County Schools will be back in session Tuesday, so the Fayetteville Police Department is reminding drivers they will be patrolling school zones and neighboring streets to help enforce and reduce speeding in school zones. Officers will also be watching for drivers that pass a stopped school bus.

As always, ABC11 wants to wish all our students heading back to school good luck and remind them to stay safe.

Click here for more on the North Carolina School Bus Stop Law.

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