Some people are night owls who enjoy staying up late at night and sleeping in as late as possible. Others are morning people who like to go to bed early and get up right when the sun rises to have a nice, slow breakfast, while yet others are somewhere completely in between. While everyone has a different start to their morning, whether that be a slow-moving, relaxing beginning of the day or a hurried, last-minute rush, it’s never favorable to have to face a frustrating circumstance first thing in the morning.
At Wheaton Warrenville South High School, many students start their day with a frustrating traffic jam while trying to get into the parking lot. Due to COVID-19, the school has asked all students to enter the building after 7:07 a.m., which safely keeps students from gathering in communal spaces but has also caused insane traffic jams. Traffic lines back up for blocks, cars move slowly or stop in the way of other moving cars, and buses end up in the wrong lanes of traffic, all combining to make it very difficult to simply enter the parking lot in the morning. Wheaton Warrenville South should reroute their vehicle entrance system to get students into school through the parking lot in the morning.
Wheaton Warrenville South students do not enjoy starting their day off with a worrisome wait to see if they will be able to get into school on time. Senior Rachel Johnston finds herself waiting in long car lines every day she arrives at school to park in her parking spot.
“It’s stressful for me to wake up early and have to worry about traffic and being late in long lines,” said Johnston. She mentioned that worrying about whether she would make it to class on time due to something out of her control raised her already-high stress levels. This stress has also been found at other high schools. The Rocklin High School newspaper, The Flash, reports that their students have been stressed out by parking issues at their school as well.
“When finding a parking spot is out of the picture, most students admit to going home and having their parents excuse their absence; otherwise they will receive a tardy and an hour of detention for something that was out of their control,” said the article. “This has caused stress and frustration among the senior class.”
Not only does waiting in long traffic lines make students stressed or anxious, it also makes them angry. Sophomore Evan Hutchins frequently gets annoyed with having to wait in a long line every day before school.
“I hate having to wait in slow-moving lines to get into school everyday,” said Hutchins. “It’s a frustrating start to the day.” The traffic jams in the parking lot cause additional unnecessary stress and frustration for students, and could be solved simply by reorganizing the system to enter the parking lot in the morning.
Although the traffic system can upset students, the opposition would argue that the school had reasons for putting it in place. According to the CDC’s operational considerations for schools, schools should,
“Close communal spaces, such as indoor cafeterias and playgrounds.” Wheaton Warrenville South has students entering the building all at once so that students will not gather in large groups in public places like they had done before COVID-19. This new safety measure caused traffic backups, but these backups would take a lot of time and energy to fix. The state of Seattle designed a traffic plan that would make maneuvering through student parking lots much easier, but would not be as easy to put in place:
“Six steps to create an arrival and departure circulation plan: One: Create a base map, Two: Assess the situation, Three: Brainstorm solutions, Four: Create a circulation plan and flyer, Five: Implement changes, Six: Evaluate and adjust.” There’s a good chance that it would take a large amount of time and effort to reorganize the driving situation, and the opposition could make the claim that this time and effort could be better spent elsewhere.
However, time and effort might be worth it since the current Wheaton Warrenville South traffic setup can be unsafe for all drivers involved. According to the School Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Risk Control from Liberty Mutual Insurance,
“Parent drop off/pick up and bus loading areas should be separated and appropriately signed to minimize traffic conflicts and to allow for effective supervision of waiting areas.” In the South parking lot, buses frequently enter the wrong lanes of traffic and back up the car lanes even further. If it were more clear which vehicles should enter which lanes, problems like this could be avoided. More problems could be resolved by using a suggestion from a children’s health organization called Children’s Mercy, who states,
“Staggering entry times for buses and car drop-off should be considered.” If the bus and car drop-off times were scheduled separately, or even another separate time for student drivers who park in the parking lot, there would be a lot less traffic with everyone trying to get in all at once. Even if arrival times were staggered, students could still wait in vehicles until 7:07 to enter the building to stay safe.
Overall, Wheaton Warrenville South should restructure their morning parking lot system by creating easy designated lanes and designated arrival times for different types of transportation to relieve student stress and keep traffic near school safe.