City streets, county roads and state and federal highways in Atmore and Escambia County became a little more crowded this week as around 5,000 local students who have been enjoying their summer vacation returned to classes for the 2017-18 school term.
Atmore police and Escambia County deputies will be handling traffic control in the various school zones, public and private, in an attempt to ensure the safety of students, teachers and school staff.
“It will be business as usual,” said Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks. “We will maintain traffic control in order to make sure we keep things as orderly as possible with the traffic. We also urge all drivers to use caution, especially when driving through school zones, for the safety of our children.”
Brooks said officers would also maintain a presence, on each campus and inside each school within the city limits and the police jurisdiction as classes resume.
County deputies will perform those same duties at the county’s rural schools, and police in Brewton and Flomaton will be patrolling the schools in their respective areas.
Beth Drew, assistant superintendent of education for Escambia County Schools, said Tuesday that public school officials are excited about the new school term and some of the changes that have been made.
The biggest change comes in the closing of A.C. Moore Elementary School and the consolidation of its students with Escambia County Middle School, where incoming fourth-graders will attend classes, and Rachel Patterson Elementary School, where students who would have been in pre-K and third grade at ACM will now go to school.
“We’re looking forward to the new school year,” said Drew, who noted that officials anticipated about 4,500 public school students. “The closing of A.C. Moore and the consolidation of students to Rachel Patterson and the middle school has gone very smoothly. Teachers are hired and in place; we’re ready to go.”
Another major change will be in place at Escambia County High School, where Hodnette Auditorium and the school’s main lobby are undergoing renovation.
Students will enter and leave the school by the back entrance, facing the football field, or by the first entrance in the school’s solar wing.
The city police chief reminded residents that the first week of school is usually filled with turmoil as everyone involved tries to gain a handle on the situation.
“I want people to also keep in mind that the first week of school will be chaotic for everybody, the people driving, the students and everyone else in the schools,” he said.