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Did Your School Change its Drop-Off/Pick-Up Process?

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Read Time: 2 minutes

A Let Grow fan in Davenport, Iowa, wrote to say how shocked he was to discover that his old elementary school’s dinky little drop-off lane had grown into a gigantic loop.

We asked for a photo illustrating the change, and it’s below, along with his note.

My school’s drop-off area got huge!

Eisenhower Elementary Parking Lot

Dear Let Grow: This is Eisenhower Elementary in Davenport, IA.

The whole thing circled in red was built some time in the early 2000s, I think. Before that I’m pretty sure there was a little quarter circle drive where I’ve highlighted in yellow, where the couple cars picking kids up for doctor appointments or whatever used to wait when I was a student there in the late 80s.

At some point the number of parent cars grew and they added that huge extra parking lot and drop-off drive (the faculty/staff parking is the lot on the north side of the school—the south side is a playground).

I haven’t lived there since 1997 but in 2014, on the corner by my childhood house, I also recall seeing all the parents waiting for the school bus in the morning with their kids. We waited there without parents when I was a kid in the late ’80s (except on the coldest days—like below 0 F—when sometimes a parent or two would let us sit in an idling car at the bus stop while we waited).

— Puzzled Parent

Now tell us what’s happened at YOUR school!

Did YOUR school do something similar? Expand its drop-off area or change its policy? My own elementary school — Romona, in Wilmette, Illinois — redirected traffic to make the street one-way at drop-off and pick-up times. Clearly this indicates a flood of cars, despite the fact that the school is still nestled in a walkable neighborhood.

So if your school changed its drop-off policy or topography, please tell us. You can post in the comments below or drop a line to [email protected]. And if you have a photo or Google Earth map, that’s great, too. Thanks!

Drop Off Pick Up Sign


  1. millersb02millersb02 says:

    My kids’ school has an elaborate pick up/drop off route to accommodate a lot of cars, with a much longer line than the one in the article. This school year, our school system had budget cuts and removed bussing for kids who live 2 miles or less from the school. This is a rural school with zero pedestrian access. So any kids within 2 miles of the school now must be driven to and from school. We live within 2 miles of our middle school. When my kids are in middle school, they will have no bussing. Again, it’s rural, there are no sidewalks or pedestrian routes, and biking would be dangerous because of road speed and the school pick up/drop off line. Losing bussing means they lose their independence to get to and from school.

  2. Rosana LincolnRosana Lincoln says:

    My kids go to a private school. Kids need a signed form from the parents authorizing them to walk to school but that only starts in 3rd grade. Even then, these kids would need to sign out at the office instead of just leave at the end of the school day. Younger siblings cannot be released to older siblings who are not in middle school. The administration asks that parents do not park on the neighboring streets. The car line is a nightmare even though it’s a small school. We drive because we live almost 4 miles away. Even if we lived close I would have to pick up in person for a very long time: the oldest and the youngest of my children are six years apart so the youngest one would not be able to leave with her oldest brother until he is in middle school.
    We spent this past summer in Seoul, South Korea and my oldest one was enrolled in first grade at a local public school for about two months (their long break is during the winter). The Korean school would send announcements asking parents to please NOT drive the kids to school because it was dangerous with so many cars around young children. Mind you, the streets around that school were narrow, many of which were one way streets so cars could not speed. They even suggested that if you did drive your kid to school, to drop them off a few blocks away. The reasons given for letting the kids walk included not only safety but also the importance of instilling healthy habits and independence from a young age. We lived across the street and my son was able to go and come back on his own.

  3. CarolineCaroline says:

    Our school in downtown Weaverville, NC recently said that you have to live within 1 mile to be a “walker”. They are discouraging parents parking downtown and walking to get their kids! They want to promote the carline-parents arriving sometimes an hour and a half just to wait in their car and let engines idle. It’s insane. There is plenty of free parking in our tiny downtown; it makes no sense.

  4. Carol BraunCarol Braun says:

    My sons take the bus to school. They get there in 11 minutes. I pick them up after school because the bus ride home would be 40 minutes of enforced silence, whereas I get them home in 10 minutes and they’re immediately free to run and play.

  5. Joshua TuckerJoshua Tucker says:

    The amount of parents helicoptering during drop off and pick up is saddening: either via long minivan lines blasting exhaust or walkers making sure their baby can make it through a very safe suburbia OK. Parents seem scared. May be due to the isolation that has ramped up over the decades and is now resulting in this over protection: read Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam.

  6. KeriKeri says:

    We drive our elementary school age kids to school. Some of it is we can and some of it is the bus availability and schedule.

    So many times last year the bus routes would get canceled because of driver shortage. Also our 10 minute drive would take an hour on the bus.

  7. Jill BestJill Best says:

    I had the same experience with school zoning as Nicole. Although we live 3 blocks from an elementary, our “home school” was 2 miles away across a major freeway! I did the paperwork to switch and they walked. The frustrating part was our side of the school had no crossing guards until right along the building, because technically the neighborhood was bussed to the other school.

    Now they go to Catholic high school that’s a 15 minute drive away. I had to drive them until my oldest got his license. But even then, I picked them up and dropped them off a block from school. No way was I waiting in that 20 minute line! I can’t believe when I’ve driven by a few times and see parents lined up 45 minutes before the day ends. The school has their head of security at one end of the line and a contracted deputy sheriff at the other. When did kids start being treated like a presidential motorcade? I went to school there and took the bus – my kids say basically no one takes the bus anymore.

  8. Nicole BrockNicole Brock says:

    I grew up in Davenport, and my mom used to teach at that school! I always rode the bus to elementary school, so I can’t speak to specifically how things have changed at the school I attended. I have a kindergartner this year in Indianapolis, and our district has a lottery system for schools. We prioritized the school 2-3 blocks from our house so that we could walk, and eventually he could walk on his own. Oddly, with our district’s confusing setup, it’s not our “neighborhood school” – that one is 1.6 miles away. I suppose some of the driving can be attributed to people schools that aren’t walkable to them for whatever reason. The dismissal procedure, at least for the little ones, is for the teacher to release the kiddo to an adult. But the older grade walkers do seem to spill out of the building rapidly in all directions, so maybe some of them are walking home on their own! I am just so glad I don’t have to deal with the car line, as it seems like a nightmare given all of the griping I see about it on the school’s Facebook group.

  9. CaryCary says:

    None of the schools I went to had a “drop off/pick up process”. All of the kids walked or rode their bikes to school and back home, alone or in kid-only groups, including kindergarteners. That was in the late 1950s and 1960s. I imagine all those schools now have complex bureaucrat-imposed rules, procedures, and protocols now, and parents of children caught walking alone will be incarcerated and ostracized from society, if not executed.

  10. LauraLaura says:

    I also live in the Quad Cities area – I live in Moline. Moline doesn’t have any bussing, as all the kids who attend each elementary school are supposed to be within “walking distance”. We live almost exactly 1 mile from our elementary school – a 20 minute walk or a few minutes drive. But NO KIDS WALK. My kids (6 and 9) do walk home from school everyday (they get dropped off by their Dad on his way into work) and they are the only ones! Parents will drive 3 blocks to park, wait for 20 minutes, get the kids in the car, and drive the 3 blocks home. What a waste of gas and parent’s time. My kids enjoy walking home from school – everyday they tell me about a bug they saw, or a sign, or a neighbor they stopped to talk to. And they have gained a huge amount of independence! It blows my mind every day that more kids don’t walk – we are almost the furthest away from the school you can get!

  11. Lon GLon G says:

    We walk our son to school several times a week, and there are a couple of classmates two blocks before the school building. We can pick them up for a “walkpool” if we get there before they load into the car!