'Our crossing guard almost got hit': Fairfield Court School staff beg for pedestrian changes

Posted at 5:26 PM, Oct 28, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- Two times a day, five days a week, RPS School Safety Officer Sergeant Edward Gore works to keep students at Fairfield Court Elementary School safe as they walk to and from school.

"Out of the 200-something kids we serve here, 195-200 of our kids walk to school," Gore said.

But he said it's not an easy task.

"These cars, they don't have regard for anybody's life right now," Gore said.

He said drivers speed down Phaup Street, sometimes hitting signs in the road and even speeding past the school buses that have their stop signs out.

"A couple of times our crossing guard almost got hit," Gore said.

Gore and Principal Angela Wright said they've tried to get help by reaching out to the city.

"They sent me back an email, did a quote, of course, it was nothing we could pay," Wright said.

But Wright said the only change she has seen is a couple of 25 miles per hour speed limit signs.

"I was hoping they would take ownership of this project," Wright said. "What I really wanted is the flashing lights."

Fairfield Court is not alone. Earlier this week, parents and students at Mary Munford Elementary School in the West End organized a Walk to School parade to raise awareness about the pedestrian safety issues at their school.

In fact, Tara Fitzpatrick, the Safe Routes to School coordinator for Greater Richmond Fit4Kids, said pedestrian safety is an issue throughout the district and it has gotten worse since COVID.

"Overwhelmingly, for years, we have been hearing from families, parents, and caregivers that their students aren't safe walking to school," Fitzpatrick said.

She said Richmond funded a pilot program to put speed enforcement cameras outside six schools, and Councilman Andreas Addison said they were supposed to be up at the beginning of the school, but they are still not up.

Two weeks ago, we asked Richmond CAO Lincoln Saunders why they are not up yet, and we are still waiting for an answer.

While they would be a start, Fitzpatrick, Principal Wright and Sgt. Gore hope that parents and staff press local, state and federal elected officials for funding to keep kids safe on their way to and from school

"We really just need more funding, that's just a huge problem," Fitzpatrick said.

Late Friday, a spokesperson for the city said they are planning street improvements on Phaup Street outside of Fairfield Court Elementary for this fall. Petula Burks said the following actions are planned:

  • New pavement
  • All related school pavement markings will be replaced (e.g., crosswalks)
  • All school-related signs will be replaced with new fluorescent yellow-green
  • Two speed tables