GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.-
Could you imagine waking up to a phone message saying your child didn’t make it to school that day? That was the case for 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway’s mother after the girl went missing last week on the Front Range.
It's estimated nearly 1,600 students within School District 51 walk to school.
With a large number like that it comes as no surprise that School District 51 officials say they’re always prepared to handled a crisis.
“Whatever number is on the emergency contact list we will go through systematically and contact those,” said Tim Leon of School District 51 security. “The school is really good about knowing, even if names aren't on those lists they know their parents pretty well.”
The drop-off lines at schools across the Grand Valley pile up every school day. Even though many parents say goodbye to their children in front of the school, some students make the journey to the building by themselves.
However, if a school bells rings and a child fails to arrive to school, district officials say that's when things get really serious. "That’s the big thing,” said Leon, “making sure kids are there and accounted for.”
Leon says a parent typically calls the school to let them know the student will be missing from class that day, but if a parent forgets, officials say school officials will try their hardest to get to the bottom of it.
“Our staff is very concerned about all students, and if a student isn’t accounted for then there are concerns that any number of things could happen to that student,” said Leon.
Local parents agree, saying the safety of their children should always be at the top of the district's list.
“I would hope they would call any numbers they had for me, my husband, my parents, her grandparents, until they figured out why she wasn't at school,” said Ashlee Meindersee, a parent.
“I hope they would have a list of my home numbers, cellphone numbers, any number until they got a hold of somebody related to my daughter, until we knew, somebody knew that she wasn't where she was supposed to be,” said Sarah Queen, another parent.
District officials say a school typically calls a parent within the first 30 minutes of school starting.
With a lot of recent changes to bus routes, schools are focusing on teaching kids safety tips.
Parents are also encouraged to teach safety tips to their children while at home.
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