A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Exactly what’s a ‘school day’ anyway?

Written April 7th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

One of the familiar school speed limit signs on Elm Street outside Memorial Middle and West Albany High schools.

On streets running past most schools, the signs say the 20 mph speed limit applies during certain hours on “school days.” But what exactly is a “school day”?

For the past year, drivers have ignored those signs, especially on roads where the normal limit is 40, even though most weekdays were technically school days. They were school days in the sense that teachers were working and pupils were supposed to learn, albeit remotely.

Now Albany schools have returned to in-person attendance in buildings. Except for Wednesdays, described in the lingo of the Covid Era as asynchronous days.

District spokesman Andrew Tomsky explains the term:  “Students will not be in buildings Wednesday, which remains ‘asynchronous’ learning as they have been throughout the school year. That means different things for different levels, but it primarily utilizes independent learning and enrichment lessons. There is also advisory for students to have a chance to communicate with their teachers and specialized services for those students that receive them.”

If no students are in the buildings, is it the kind of school day when you might get a ticket for exceeding 20 mph?

I asked Albany Police Chief Marcia Harnden. “When schools are clearly closed for a day, officer(s) would likely not enforce that speed limit,” she replied in part.

The chief adds this common-sense advice: “Drivers should always assume school is in session and children are present. It is best to drop your speed in case there is a child that may be along the roadway.”

If you do that, there’s no chance of a speeding ticket and you don’t have to worry about whether Wednesday is a “school day” or not. More important, nobody is likely to get hit. (hh)


12 responses to “Exactly what’s a ‘school day’ anyway?”

  1. Cheryl P says:

    A “school day” is typically Monday thru Friday, from September thru the second week of June. Excepting holiday.

  2. Bob Woods says:

    Hasso, maybe you out to head down to Jacksonville for a week off. Weather will be nice and you can get some long rides in.

  3. Abe Cee says:

    The other is what defines the “When Children are Present” signs. Is it when it’s a small child that would seem to be elementary age? What about teenagers? Or small statured adults?

    I suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry and slow down but since there is no time frame associated with the “when present” sign one should slow down at 4am or 9pm just a often?

  4. Richard Vannice says:

    There are no “When Children are Present” on the school signs that I have seen in quite some time.
    Everyone should pickup a drivers manual at least every two years to check the changes. Having spent a number of years in law enforcement I picked up a copy and found that I had been, unknowingly, violating several traffic laws. I also learned that there were some things that were illegal were now legal.
    Get a manual – you might be surprised.

  5. john hartman says:

    Since nothing the author normally does on a given day requires the author to go fast, it seems a simple rule of thumb might help. As one approaches the school speed limit sign, stop believing that your goal/mission for the outing is more important than the life of a child…It is NOT. Then, slow down the vehicle to whatever the sign says and proceed.

    Do not get yourself in a tizzy because you might lose 30-seconds of your precious time. Do not write complaining letters to the cops or to the schools or to the folks at ODOT.

    Instead, realize that your sense of entitlement – to drive in any manner you choose – is just a thing inside your head and nothing else. No one else need be put in danger because you believe you are “within your rights.”

    Instead, you might slow down, giving you time to consider how important the life of a child is in comparison to your desire to get to BiMart :30-seconds sooner. This is not difficult.

  6. Albany YIMBY says:

    Inside of town speed limits should be not more than 30 MPH. The speed limit for ALL urban areas in Europe is 50 km/h (roughly 30MPH) and civilization has not collapsed because of needing 30 more seconds to go to Costco.

    The problems is that roads in Albany are so wide that it seems you’re going superslow if you go 25-30 MPH. It’s the problem with “stroads” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZ1HhLq-Huo

    In short, we would need less speed signs and less police enforcement if streets were actually designed narrower, for people, children and pedestrians, and not just for cars to drive 50 MPH with ease.

  7. George Pugh says:

    Central Linn’s High and Middle Schools are located adjacent to highway 228 about a mile east of Halsey. Their signs say, in effect, “Reduce speed to 20 mph when light is flashing.” The lights are controlled by the school.
    How hard is that ?

  8. Alex Nilsson says:

    Hello! Thank you for this article. But I have a question. There is a school nearby the DMV I am scheduled to give a road test. There is one particular road that has a speed limit of 30mph then after like 2 min there is a board on my right that states ” school zone ahead ” and does not mention any speed limit and after a while, it says ” school zone ends “. My question is, on a weekday what speed limit should I maintain? and also on a Saturday ( when I have the road test ) what speed do I need to maintain. Thanks

  9. Birdieken says:

    I always thought if the school is flying the flag, schools open?

  10. John says:

    “When schools are clearly closed for a day, officer(s) would likely not enforce that speed limit,” said Albany Police Chief Marcia Harnden.

    That makes it all CRYSTAL CLEAR – this is just another regulation that the police freely admit is open to selective enforcement. It seems like the Police Chief should have known or could have sought a definitive answer, or made a executive decision; to, or not to, enforce the school speed limits. Instead she leaves it up to an officer discretion. Fantastic Leadership!!!!

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