HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Today is a big day for you and your children as Horry County students start the first day of school. Student Safety is a top priority. In order to keep your kids safe, a lot of planning is in place from the district to individual schools.
Many of our schools are packed, like Ocean Bay Middle school, but the principal said they've got several methods down, to keep the more than 12-hundred kids here safe.
It starts from the outside, in. All school doors stay locked and they don't just open for anyone. Visitors can only enter through the front door and security cameras allow the school to see up close, who is being let inside. From there, guests have to scan IDs and wear a badge.
The school also monitors students, from the minute they arrive. They all enter the cafeteria doors, walk through metal detectors and are searched by a security officer, who stays on duty all day.
The principal at Ocean Bay Middle says with all these methods, communication is key, which is why they have phones in classrooms and walkie talkies. There is also an emergency phone line schools can use to report an issue to the district office. Another line links schools to you, so they can call to get to everyone, at once.
Emergencies can happen, but before they do, Horry County schools want to be prepared. Schools hold drills from fire, to hurricane, lock down, even intruder drills, to be ready for a real life emergency.
The Horry County Police Department is also on board. An anonymous tip line to report information about school safety, from bullying to theft, has been organized.
In addition to security and safety, off campus, HCS leaders have implemented online interactive maps for parents to track buses and routes. Even if you don't have kids in school this will help you find places to avoid. This system is the beginning of what we're told will be a greater presence for Horry County transportation, online, to hopefully make school transportation more efficient.
In the meantime, the first few weeks, may be shaky for everyone. Especially in Carolina Forest, one of the anticipated busiest areas for back to school traffic. Another busy spot is going to be Highway 707, but we're really going to see the impact everywhere.
Schools take extra precaution to be sure the kids are on the correct bus, especially elementary schools, which in turn, delays the buses for all age groups. All those extra drivers and buses will be out during your morning and afternoon commutes so leave yourself extra time. We're talking more than 350 school buses, with routes in the morning and afternoon - that's more than 1400 bus routes.
"Traffics bad as is. The buses are going to be making numerous stops, throughout our neighborhoods, on your main roads, 707, 701, 90 and 57 - all of them - so its gonna slow up the traffic so I just caution the public to just be patient," said Horry County Schools Transportation Director Jim Wright.
Patience with buses is key because their main job is to get kids to and from school safely.