Student Pick-up and Drop-off

How Has the Pandemic Impacted the Design of Student Pick-up and Drop-off Areas?

One of Wold’s core values is to go above and beyond to provide superior service that exceeds expectations. As part of our commitment, we monitor changes and trends in the industry to stay ahead of the curve. One shift we’ve witnessed over the past 18 months is the increasing number of parents that have dropped their children off at school instead of having them ride the bus due to COVID-related concerns. With this in mind, we asked Vaughn Dierks, AIA, LEED, AP, Partner, for his perspective on the following questions:

How has the pandemic impacted the design of student pick-up and drop-off areas? How are designers helping keep students safe given the increasing number of parents dropping their kids off at school?

Vaughn Dierks: This increase in traffic has created longer lines before school at drop-off and even more drawn-out lines after school for pick-up. This is not a new trend, however. Over the past decade, we have seen the next generation of parents choosing to drive their children to school as opposed to having them take the school bus. While the COVID pandemic is adding extra emphasis to this trend, we believe it will continue to be an ongoing factor in school site design. As designers, we have adjusted school sites to create safer driving environments in several ways.

First, we are building longer drive lanes to pull waiting traffic off of public streets and onto the sites. You may enter the site from one point, only to double back and around a drive outside of the primary parking lot before arriving at the front door. Additionally, placing the main entrance at the farthest point in the drive sequence ensures that the parent will pull all the way up to that point as opposed to stopping midway. This is all designed to allow for safe lines within the site. We also separate bus traffic from parent traffic and make the sequence as intuitive as possible, especially since the bus drivers are trainable. This helps avoid the potential for an accident and eases the wait times by making the site easy to navigate.

Another feature designed to facilitate a continuous flow of traffic is maintaining passenger drop-off from the left side of the car so students aren't crossing in front of vehicles. Also, similar to an airport, designers can widen the drop off lane to accommodate at least two vehicles so that cars can pull into the left lane after completing drop-off or pick-up and to allow the next vehicle to enter.

COVID may have added to this issue, but it is one that is unlikely to abate based on generational shifts in parenting. This is something that a significant number of parents are doing every day of the school year, and by taking simple and thoughtful steps, we can create a safer and better experience for all.

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