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Sandy Journal

Even with schools’ soft closure, Sandy City crossing guards ensure student safety

Mar 19, 2020 03:10PM ● By Julie Slama

Although Sandy City crossing guards Jamison Morrison and Lisa Van Wagenen were ready to cross any Altara Elementary student and wish them top of the morning on St. Patrick’s Day, the crosswalks were empty. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Crossing guards Jamison Morrison and Lisa Van Wagenen wore their shamrock headbands, ready to greet any Altara Elementary student they were to meet — even though schools were mandated a soft closure for two weeks by the state superintendent Sydnee Dickson March 13 as a precaution to the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re out here just in a case kids are going to school; maybe they didn’t get the memo, or they show up out of habit, or they are heading there to pick up their backpacks or personal stuff, which they could do (at Canyons School District schools) yesterday or today,” Morrison said on March 17. “We are out here even if there is one kid; we want to keep everyone safe.”

On March 16 and 17, neither crossing guard helped an Altara student across the sidewalk – not in the morning nor afternoon.

“We’ve crossed some walkers and runners, but not elementary students,” Van Wagenen said. “We were just starting to get busy, too, as we have more walkers when the weather warms up.”

Before schools closed, the number of students walking home from school were adding up to 30 to 50 in the afternoons, she added.

Mostly, these days, the crossing guards were responding to curious motorists, who asked, “Why are you here; aren’t schools closed?”

“It’s an eerie quiet,” Morrison said. “We miss the kids, hearing about a new song or their new backpack.”

Crossing guard supervisor Janice Parker said that these days, all Sandy City crossing guards are on duty. After March 18, when schoolchildren can return to school to pick up homework packets, only 17 guards will be crossing students during the lunch hour at the five Canyons schools in Sandy that are offering grab-and-go sack lunches.

“If schools are open, our Chief (of Police Greg Severson) wants our crossing guards to be there, to keep kids safe,” Parker said. “At those schools that will offer sack lunches, our crossing guards will continue to be there during their lunch hour.”

During these two weeks of schools’ soft closure, Parker said crossing guards will continue to be paid – even though many will not be on duty.

“We’ll be practicing social distancing by being home,” she said.

That means, they’ll miss the stories and daily reports from school children.

“We won’t hear how their day went or what they did over the weekend,” Van Wagenen said. “It’s the third St. Patrick’s day in a row, we haven’t crossed students (as previous holidays were on the weekend). We bought little pins to give them three years ago and we still have them.”