School year starts with warnings over traffic, Zika

Sheriff's deputies are welcoming the school year with a safety warning for drivers.

"We are going to have every available deputy we can out there to help slow people down," said Maj. Chad Chronister of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

They're urging drivers to watch for school zones, stopped school buses and to put the phone down.

"We don't want that tragedy, some expensive ticket is not going to fix a child that gets hurt," said Chronister. "They are our most precious resource, and we are going to do everything we can to protect them."

Street safety means just as much to deputies, parents and students, as it does to teachers.

"Once they arrive, they are your source of energy," said Beth Calzon, a math teacher at Wilson Middle School in Tampa. "They are what keep you going."

Calzon is doing an Olympic theme this year to make math more relevant to her students.

"My goals this year are that all of the students that I teach will feel successful," she said. "[It starts with] greeting a student, getting to know them, we do a lot of getting to know you community building type of activities, just so we can get to know who they are, how they learn."

Deputies say it's all of our responsibility to help students get into classrooms like these.

Step one, leave extra time to get to work tomorrow, so you're not in a rush.

"We have 235 crossing guards out there, working a lot of busy roadways," said Chronister. "There is going to be kids, and you can be sure there is going to be one that is going to dart out in front of traffic."

They will also be on the lookout for Zika, as Gov. Rick Scott has ordered administrators to pass out bug spray to students.

They are sending teachers a tool kit so they can include Zika prevention in some of their lesson plans.

Teachers and staff will be sending home information to parents, as well as posting information around the school.

The directive will apply to students of all ages.

The Hillsborough County School District says it is preparing to distribute the information, but wants to make sure it does not get lost in the shuffle of everything happening the first day.

"We have lots of things that happen when you talk about children in a school environment, they are in a classroom that is a closed area, when you talk about the flu or different things like that," said Tanya Arja of the Hillsborough County School District. "We are always encouraging students to wash their hands and for parents if their kids are sick to make sure they keep them home."