The Washington Times-Herald

March 8, 2014

Time change puts kids back in the dark

By Mike Grant Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — This weekend is the one for the time change. Daylight Saving Time goes into effect on Sunday at 2 a.m. and that means everyone will be moving their clocks forward one hour. For schools trying to get the most out of their school days that is going to mean a lot more time in the darkness for kids. Come Monday sunrise will hit the Washington area at 8:04 a.m.

“We have a lot of kids that already get on the school bus in the dark,” said Barr-Reeve School Superintendent Travis Madison. “This extra hour of darkness in the morning makes a difference for us. We make decisions on how the buses will be able to run under the conditions they are facing. When its dark we have to be a lot more careful about fog and icy conditions. That means we often have to delay for an hour or two when the conditions are not good.”

The time change was among the reasons Barr-Reeve decided not to go with extended days. “We didn’t want to have the kids out any earlier than we already do. I have even seen studies that kids don’t learn as well when they are in a classroom when it is dark out.”

North Daviess also will have kids catching buses in the dark. The school system is still beginning at regular time, but the time change will put many back in the dark along the rural roads. “It’s always better when it is light out, much safer for the kids,” said Superintendent Robert Bell.

Washington added time to the school day in the morning, but the buses were moved up only about five minutes. “We found that the kids were getting to school too early,” said Washington Superintendent Dan Roach. “Most of our change in the morning has been getting the staff in and ready for the students.”

Still with some children on buses for as long as an hour there will be kids out in the dark on the way to school in the coming weeks.

Area law enforcement are encouraging motorists to use extra care. “Common sense tells us with the darkness it won’t be as safe,” said Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit.

“We have discussed this with our officers because school safety is one of our priorities. It’s just a lot easier for people to function during daylight.”

Police won’t be adding patrols, but will have a presence around area schools. “One of the things we do is patrol the schools in the morning,” said Harbstreit. “We really have an awesome community where people are cautious when it comes to kids. We’ve just got to hope people don’t do anything reckless.”

The bottom line is that with the extended darkness in the morning the risk of injury rises.

“We talk to the kids about safety,” said Harbstreit. “It’s going to be dark and we’re going to have little ones standing along the side of the county roads. It’s something everyone needs to be aware of.”