Brookwood Elementary has achieved Gold status in the Safe Routes to School program by educating kindergarten through fifth graders on safe ways to get to and from school. The school also achieved Gold status in 2019. Paul Weaver, coordinator for Safe Routes to School at Brookwood, explains Safe Routes to School:
"Safe Routes to School is a way for educators to teach kids safe ways to travel going to school and going home. It incorporates everything from walking to school, biking, and bus safety. It covers the whole idea of how to get the kids to school and home safely."
Some of the activities coordinated by Brookwood's Safe Routes to School include Georgia's Walk to School Day, classroom education, biking days, and National Walk to School Day. For the Walk to School Days, Brookwood sets up a safe place for students, teachers, and chaperones to meet. The Dalton Police help coordinate a safe route to school, and the students and chaperones walk to school usually wearing gear to help them be seen by drivers.
"It is a nice way to start the morning," Weaver said. "It is a way to relax, maybe chat with someone along the way, and you are not fighting the rush hour mentality. By coordinating these events, we bring awareness to the whole community."
To achieve Gold Status, a school must first pass through the School Partner Level, Bronze Level, and Silver Level, which require a school to collect student travel-to-school data, share a Safe Routes to School presentation every two years, conduct bicycle and pedestrian safety education, and pick four pre-approved activities that meet the criteria of Safe Routes to School's Resource Center.
According to Safe Routes to School's website, to earn Gold Status, schools must maintain the criteria for previous levels and establish an institutional Safe Routes to School program or establish Safe Routes to School as part of a student group. Schools must also have another additional five more preapproved activities
COVID-19 affected many events typically held as a part of Safe Routes to School. Brookwood was given totally new rules, which suspended their Walk to School events and changed Safe Routes to School to more classroom education. Students were still taught safe ways to travel like checking your surroundings, how to use a pedestrian light, and more. Weaver is hopeful that next year Brookwood will be able to apply Safe Routes to School in the classroom, but also host their previous event days.