News & Insights

Back to School: How to Plan for Safe and Efficient Drop-Off and Pick-Up

"Student Drop-Off and Pick-Up Area" Road Sign

K-12 school operations have been impacted across the country as a result of COVID-19. We’ve already seen drive-through graduations with special accommodations to protect the health and safety of students and their loved ones. The return to school in the fall poses new challenges for communities, schools, and their neighboring homes and businesses.

When preparing to return, one area that may be overlooked is the impact of reduced busing/bus utilization at drop-off/pick-up areas. The loss of a single bus could result in 50 or more additional cars needing access to the school’s drop-off/pick-up area at once, significantly increasing delays and extending queues beyond school property and into surrounding neighborhoods and streets. These delays will impact students, staff, and parents while placing all at risk due to prolonged time spent in crowded drop-off/pick-up areas.

Below are some tips to help K-12 schools plan for safe and efficient drop-off and pick-up when school is back in session.

Plan Ahead

1. Review typical school bus ridership and parent drop-off/pick-up area conditions.

What has worked and what hasn’t for your school in a typical year?

2. Consider your procedures.

Is there a more efficient way to get kids in and out of the building?

3. Get creative!

Are there other locations that can be used for drop-off and pick-up? Where do you have space to back up vehicles safely?

4. Create a diagram to map out your plan and train your staff on how to implement it.

Keep safety at the forefront. Consider using temporary crosswalks or hiring additional staff.

5. Work with local partners.

Collaborate with neighborhoods, municipalities, and consultants to identify likely impacts and mitigation strategies if a significant increase in drop-off/pick-up is anticipated.

Get Started

Kimley-Horn has significant experience developing safe and efficient transportation solutions for K-12 schools across the country. In addition, our experience with special event traffic management (sporting events, concerts, natural disaster response, etc.) provides us with the expertise necessary to identify impactful mitigation for the unique challenges each school encounters.

We are hopeful these tips will help K-12 schools stay flexible, creative, and adaptive to a range of operational conditions that could arise when schools reopen under COVID-19-related restrictions. If you are a school district or educational institution architect and need assistance evaluating a site’s characteristics or developing a conceptual traffic control plan, please contact one of our K-12 consultants.


Get in touch with our K-12 consultants.