TAUNTON — With Taunton Public Schools now back in session, Taunton Police Chief Edward Walsh and Superintendent John Cabral would like to offer students, parents and motorists several important safety tips.
Online Safety for Remote Learning
The Taunton Police and Taunton Public Schools would like to remind parents of ways they can help keep their children safe when they are online for remote learning.
“It is imperative that parents monitor their childrens’ activities online and be sure that they’re visiting appropriate websites and focusing on their school work while classes are in session,” Superintendent Cabral said. “Additionally, as a reminder, parents should talk to their children about appropriate behavior while participating in video learning sessions. There can be many distractions while at home compared to sitting in a classroom. We expect that all students behave the same way that they would in their classrooms while remote learning is ongoing.”
Parents are urged to be aware of what their child is doing online, keep the computer in a common area of the house and become familiar with the remote learning tools your child is using.
Parents are also encouraged to talk to their children about cyber safety. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provides several resources for parents and guardians regarding online safety and the following topics:
- What is personal information?
- Social networking and privacy settings
- Texting/smartphone usage
The follow are some general internet safety tips for students from the National Crime Prevention Council:
- When choosing a password, make sure it includes letters and numbers. This makes it harder for someone to guess.
- Avoid free screensavers, smiley faces and other free downloads unless you absolutely know the download is safe.
- Use privacy settings on social networking sites to avoid having strangers see your profiles. Have a parent or adult you trust check your profile to make sure they’re okay with what you’ve posted (even if only your friends can see it).
- Ask your parents to install anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam and personal firewall software. Ask your parents if the installed software is up-to-date.
- Ask your parents to help you find websites that are safe, fun, and kid friendly.
- Avoid clicking on downloads from unfamiliar emails and websites.
- If you come across an email or message from someone you don’t know, don’t respond. Tell an adult about the message.
- When using a browser such as Google or Yahoo, be careful what keywords you type in. Avoid curse words; they may lead to risky sites.
- Never give out personal information or send pictures to strangers or strange websites
Safety While Traveling to School
“We are glad that school is back in session and we wish everyone a safe and fun school year,” Chief Walsh said. “Part of being safe is being mindful of vehicles on the road when walking to your school or bus stop and also using proper safety measures when online during remote learning.”
Walking to school:
- Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available; when on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic
- Before you cross the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing and always cross streets at crosswalks or intersections
- Stay alert and avoid distracted walking. Never walk while texting. If you need to respond to a text, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk. Never cross the street while using an electronic device. Do not wear earbuds while walking across the street.
Riding a bicycle to school:
- Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and in single file
- Come to a complete stop before crossing the street; walk bikes across the street
- Stay alert and avoid distracted riding
- Make sure your child always wears a properly fitted helmet and bright clothing
Riding the bus to school:
- Go to the bus stop with your child to teach them the proper way to get on and off the bus
- Teach your children to stand six feet (or 3 giant steps) away from the curb
- If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, teach him or her to walk on the side of the road until they are 10 feet ahead of the bus; your child and the bus driver should always be able to see each other
Driving your child to school:
- Stay alert and avoid distracted driving
- Obey school zone speed limits and follow your school’s drop-off procedure
- Make eye contact with children who are crossing the street
Safety Tips for Motorists
It is important that motorists be alert while driving, especially in school zones and residential neighborhoods. Children can be unpredictable and may ignore hazards and take risks. The NSC provides the follow tips for motorists:
- Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
- In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection. Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
- If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
- The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist. Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
Motorists are also reminded that the Massachusetts Hands-Free Law requires drivers to stay off of all electronic devices while driving.