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Turlock students shoulder heavy backpacks, long walks home
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Dear Editor,

In August of 2016 the Huffington Post wrote an article regarding Backpacks and back pain. In this article they quote Dr. Ebraheim form the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons as saying,

“Kids these days think backpacks are moving libraries, carrying heavier weights back and forth to school and between classes without taking breaks. The weight can cause a variety of back problems including scoliosis. This is a problem not only for the child’s health but also because back pain can interfere with the learning environment. Kids need to feel healthy during the day so they can keep up with their schoolwork injury free.”

My son attends Turlock Unified School District, he is in 8th grade. His school, like many others around Turlock, do not provide lockers for the students to house their items in. My son’s backpack weighs between 20-25 pounds. He carries his bag all day, but the real frustration comes after school. After school when he is supposed to take a bus home – that drops him off 1.8 miles from my house. The transportation department and those who set the boundaries and guidelines up for the students’ bus stops think that a 2-mile drop zone (even when it is to cross busy streets) is perfectly fine for students. It’s easy for adults, who walk a small distance to their car, drive themselves to work, and then walk that short distance across the parking lot to their office, and make a decision for a young person to walk 2 miles, with a backpack that weighs 20 pounds on their back.

 I, like most parents, work. I do not have the ability to pick my child up after school and rely on the transportation the school provides for my son to get home. The school my son attends does not offer after school activities except a couple sports throughout the year. The Dial-A-Ride bus system only runs for elementary school students. So, as a parent what do you do? What do you do when the school doesn’t even provide a place for them to at least put their stuff to lighten the load or burden of a 2-mile walk home?

 We now have several incidents of students walking to or from school being threatened or frightened from strangers in cars that are passing by. This is a problem, as the school district doesn’t seem to really have the students in mind as soon as the final bell rings. I have tried to reach out to the superintendent’s office and while the first contact resulted in a phone call at 8 a.m. leaving a message that promised a call back that afternoon, that never came. The emails since have gone unanswered. Maybe they think it’s easy to brush off one parent, so I am curious how many parents this affects? How many people need a different solution in Turlock?

— Amber Edwards