With the Barlow Park loop being closed to parent drop-offs and pick-ups, how will Barlow Park Elementary School handle the new influx of drivers to the front of its property?

   With a total rearrangement of where parents — and buses — will go on school property.

   Simply put, if all goes as planned, starting Thursday, Feb. 21 buses will pick-up and drop-off children in the front parking lot that’s traditionally been used for parents.

   Parents and guardians, meanwhile, now will do their drop-offs and pick-ups in the back parking lot where the buses have traditionally gone, which is much closer to a playground where many children play before and after school.

   All these changes follow the Ripon Common Council’s sudden closure of the park loop Tuesday evening.

   It’s a decision that sent local parents into a frenzy on social media as they sought to figure out how to navigate the new reality.

   Barlow Park Elementary Principal Tanya Sanderfoot acknowledged those concerns in a letter she sent to Barlow families Friday afternoon.

   “With the changes in the accessibility of the ‘Barlow Park Loop,’ we have been looking at other options for before school and after school routines,” she wrote, noting the changes were “causing more chaos and not providing consistency for families and staff.”

   In her letter, she gave a nod to concerns aired, such as limited parking in the front lot, no direct access to the back playground, limited space in front of the school, the fact that many young children are not able to walk alone to the school or playground, and how “our families and students cherish that outside ‘recess’ before school and after school.”

   To alleviate these concerns, the front and back lots essentially are being flipped.

   During arrival times, staff will be encouraged to park in front, and buses will drop children off there as well. Everyone else — including parents — will be asked to continue on to the back lot, which will be supervised.

   “This will allow parents who can do curbside drop off to do so, but have enough parking available for those who cannot,” Sanderfoot wrote. “If students choose to walk through the park, there will still be supervision available when they arrive on the back playground.”

At dismissal times, buses again will pick up children at the front of the school, while others will be asked to pick up kids from the back of the school, where again the playground will be supervised.

   For “inclement weather,” children will be directed to the cafeteria at both drop-off and pick-up times.

   A few parking stalls in the front will be marked for visitor parking during the day.

   Though Sanderfoot acknowledged that some children still may opt to walk or bike through the park to get to the school, she encouraged them to take an alternative route.

   “The city of Ripon has advised that because of the park closing, that they will be moving their crossing guard from Watson Street and Griswold Street to the intersection of Griswold Street and Newbury Street,” she wrote. “Students walking to school should use this crosswalk to safety cross Griswold Street and then proceed south on Newbury Street to the school property. This route provides sidewalks for safer travel. Parents are encouraged to talk with their students if they walk this route to learn the changes.”

   Though the plan to close the park for parent use already has been announced, the parking swap at the school won’t begin until Thursday to allow for a smooth transition, Sanderfoot explained.

   “This will give us time to teach the children, get the word out to all families, and obtain signage,” she wrote. “If you have concerns or questions about this process, please contact the school office at 920-748-1550 or send me an email at sanderfoott@ripon.k12.wi.us

   “Thank you for your patience as we work to create a safe and efficient routine for all families.”