South Modesto school starts Walking School Bus program

Tuolumne Elementary will kick off its Walking School Bus Program this morning, on International Walk to School Day.

Teachers and parent volunteers will meet at designated locations and walk students to school. The pedestrian “bus” will stop along the way to pick up students at designated spots in the neighborhood south of the Tuolumne River and east of Highway 99.

Adult volunteers will be at these corners at 7:45 a.m.: Anthony Avenue and Sonora Avenue; Bystrum Road and Sonora Avenue; Solar Avenue and Musick Avenue; Souza Avenue and Hawes Court; Musick Avenue and Lucchesi Lane; Herndon Road and Holm Avenue; Herndon Road and Pecos Avenue; and the Starbucks parking lot at Herndon and East Hatch Road.

Doctors Medical Center, Memorial Medical Center, Fed Ex and The Safe Kids Coalition will greet students arriving at school from 8 to 8:30 a.m. with giveaways and child passenger restraint information for parents. The kickoff includes school assemblies for students.

Tuolumne has the only Walking School Bus Program in Modesto City Schools this year. The idea was an outgrowth of the school’s Second Cup of Coffee meetings with parents.

Parents and neighbors have complained of unsafe traffic conditions around Tuolumne, especially since the death of a kindergartner who darted into Herndon Road after school March 26 and was hit by a city bus. The mother and father of Alan Alexander Navarro Fernandez have each filed wrongful-death claims against Modesto City Schools and the city of Modesto.

Last year, the school tried, with limited success, to reroute student pickups to Sonora Avenue, a side street with less traffic. A letter sent home shortly before the fatal incident warned that drivers were ignoring school safety patrol stop signs and had nearly run over students.

The Walking School Bus Program is a partnership with Doctors Medical Center, Memorial Medical Center, the California Highway Patrol, the Center for Human Services and Fed Ex. For more information, call Principal Heather Contreras at (209) 576-4661.