READING - School Chief Financial Officer Gail Dowd and other members of the school administration reported on the start of school Wednesday August 28th, during the meeting of the School Committee Thursday August 29.

The opening of schools apparently went smoothly with the exception of congestion at the new late start at Reading Memorial High School. Four police officers were present at the start of school to help the drop off process.

Dowd reported High School Principal Kate Boynton met with the school resource officers and high school staff Wednesday and several directional signs were added and an additional drop off point was added for Thursday which speeded up the process.

The new drop off spot is at the field house under the bridge which is to be reached by going around the outside of the Performing Arts Center parking lot to the driveway at the rear of the school.

Another meeting reportedly will be held this week to again assess the situation and may include consideration of opening the long blocked gate at the rear of the Performing Arts Center during the start of the school day.

An extremely late return home bus carrying students placed out of town will also be investigated said Jennifer Stys, Director of Student Services. She added that everyone was safe during the trip home but the reason for the extreme lateness was being looked into.

As for raising the gate and other issues, School Committee member Elaine Webb said they had hoped to have a comprehensive traffic study done by the Reading Police for opening day and that raising the gate was an long standing issue but safety of students parking in the Performing Arts Center lot was most important.

The email below went out Wednesday following the first day of school from RMHS Principal Kate Boynton.

A meeting was held with police and school staff and a change was made to the traffic plan in an effort to help with the flow of traffic. Police and School staff will meet again tomorrow after school is in session to review the results. Tomorrow there will once again be a heavy police presence at all of the schools.

Dear Families,

I want to thank parents and students for their patience and understanding this morning during drop off time. We experienced greater than expected congestion on Oakland Road that flowed out to Birch Meadow and Main Street. Following the drop off time, school administration met with district personnel and Reading Police to debrief and also create a revised route that will hopefully alleviate the congestion. Attached is the map of the revised routes, which are also outlined below:

There will be two options for families who are dropping off students in the morning

Parents can choose to go into the field house entrance and drop off there

Parents can choose to go into the Performing Arts Center entrance and drop off at the front of the school

Both routes will exit the same way

Busses will still go in the Performing Arts Center entrance, drop off in front of the PAC and exit school grounds by driving behind the school

Parents should not drop off student on Oakland Road or by or in the top faculty parking lot

Reading Police will have traffic signs up tomorrow to help guide and direct traffic and administration will be outside monitoring the situation. We have another meeting scheduled with Reading Police and district personnel tomorrow morning to debrief how this adjustment went and make additional changes as needed.

The afternoon pick up went very smoothly. Busses were outside the PAC and departed the school at 3:15 and parents picked up students from the main entrance area.

Again, thank you all for your understanding and flexibility as we take steps to improve the safety of our students.

I wanted to also share that today was a wonderful and smooth start to classes during the school day. It was great to have students back in the building!

Sincerely,

Kate Boynton

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