A long-time school policy is being implemented in local schools, changing the morning drop-off process for some parents.
The Bedford County School District's policy regarding visitors to schools was issued in 1998 and states, in part, that except during school programs, athletic events and similar public events, all visitors are required to report to the school office as soon as they enter the building.
There they are to sign a log book, and gain authorization to visit other areas of the building as granted by the principal or designee.
The administrative policy -- the way administrators enforce the policy within the schools -- was modified earlier this month in response to continued concerns voiced by principals.
Bedford County schools are said to have exceptional parental involvement, but in some cases that familiarity interferes with both safety and instructional time.
"For the safety of students and staff, we must follow all security procedures," Cascade Elementary principal Martha Fisher stated in a letter sent to parents.
At the beginning of the month, parents were advised to allow students to walk into the school building independently. If a parent has an urgent reason to walk their child to class, they must sign in at the office and wear a visitor sticker.
Visitors will then be accompanied to the classroom involved or provided an identification card for entrance. A teacher will not admit a visitor to the classroom without proper procedure.
For parents who do not wish to drop their student off in the bus lane, they may be allowed to escort their child to a designated spot in the building, such as the office or foyer.
Kindergarten parents and parents of new students will be allowed a maximum two-week period at the beginning of the school year to accompany their child to the classroom.
"This will enable a positive break for both parent and student and support our desire for students to become independent and gain self-esteem," said Fisher.
For grades one through five, a maximum of three days will be allowed to make the adjustment.
"Numerous parents walk their child to the classroom, take the opportunity to have a mini-conference with the teacher and take attention away from what [the teacher] needs to be doing," said Cheryl Harris, assistant superintendent.
"Important instruction time occurs first thing in the morning."
"More importantly, without appropriate identification, a stranger could enter the school in the morning and create a dangerous situation," said Harris.
The policy also underlines the authority of administrative staff to exclude from the school premises any person(s) believed to be disturbing the educational programs in the classrooms or the school, or who are disturbing the teachers or students present.
"We do want parents in the school and welcome them, but we ask that they go through the appropriate process and make sure it is a convenient time for the teachers," said Harris.