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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Safety reminders as school begins

Students are heading back to school, so there are some safety considerations to remember.

First, be careful out there. Those school zones you’ve breezed through this summer will be clogged with cars, buses and students. So give yourself more commute time – and stay off the smartphones.

The speed limit is 20 miles per hour, and fines start at $234. A couple of school zones have cameras, and judging by the number of tickets issued, a lot of people disobey the speed limit.

From January to the end of the school year, 5,778 tickets were issued near Longfellow and Finch elementary schools. About 40 percent of violators were driving between 31 mph and 35 mph. That’s just two schools. Scary to think about how many school-zone speeders there are throughout the region.

Meanwhile, many college students are back on campuses, and if history is any judge, some of them will end up on roofs, ledges and other precarious perches after drinking too much.

At midnight on Wednesday, a young North Idaho man fell from the roof of a sorority while visiting Washington State University. He isn’t a student, but his brother is. He was taken to a hospital with injuries. Police say he was intoxicated.

It’s a foolish act that happens with distressing regularity.

Finally, parents of K-12 students should know that students are required by state law to be vaccinated. The list of required immunizations can be found at the state Department of Health website, and they include inoculations against measles, chickenpox and hepatitis B.

Spokane Public Schools notes that all students in grades 9-12 need two chickenpox (varicella) shots before Sept. 30, and that sixth-graders need a Tdap shot (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis).

School districts have sent out information warning parents of the requirement and letting them know what records they need to provide.

There are two opportunities for free vaccinations next week.

Monday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Riverside Elementary School, 3802 East Deer Park-Milan Road, Chattaroy. And Wednesday, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Greenacres Middle School, 17409 E. Sprague Ave.

School districts have recently cracked down on vaccinations, and while they can’t compel parents to take their kids in for shots, they have been more assertive about keeping current records.

Public health officials note that for herd immunity to be effective, at least 90 percent of students at schools need to be inoculated. Students who don’t have up-to-date inoculations will be sent home if there is an outbreak of a communicable disease.

Measles were eradicated in the United States but re-emerged when parents began balking at vaccinations. Some parents fell for the mistaken belief that the measles vaccine was implicated in the rise of autism. No reputable research has made this connection.

Fortunately that trend is being reversed as parents learn more about the safety of immunization and the consequences of declining to follow state law.

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