Students, principals and nurses worry as more students fall on snowy sidewalks on way to school

AKRON, Ohio - Prakash Biswa, a senior at Akron North High School, walks to school each day, but last week he showed up with an injury to his elbow after falling on slippery sidewalk.

"I fell one time and again. I got up, but I just fell again," Biswa said.

Kids falling on their to way to or from school is becoming a serious concern in the Akron Public School District.

Philomena Vincente, principal at Leggett Elementary, said about 200 — or half — of the kids at her school are walkers.

"We usually have a couple everyday that have fallen down, maybe put a a hole in their pants, got a fat lip," Vincente said.

Other injuries include bruises, twisted ankles and occasional head injuries, according to school nurse Laurie Celik, who is employed by Akron Children's Hospital.

Vincente said snow and ice are not cleared from most of the sidewalks in the neighborhood and believes part of the problem is the high number of rental properties near the school.

"Of the rental properties, the renters just don't take care of their sidewalks."

That leads to another worry for the district. Many of the kids walk in the streets because it's an easier to navigate plowed road rather than trek through sidewalks piled up with snow.

During this rough winter, many in the district fear that kids will be struck by cars.

"It's scary for them to walk in the streets, not only for the student who is slipping and sliding as they're walking, but for the driver who is having to drive with kids walking in the street," Celik said.

Biswa hopes people will be motivated to clear their sidewalks after hearing about the high number of kids who slip and fall.

"Everybody can't have a car, so they have to walk everyday. I wish someone would clean it," he said.

The Akron Engineering Department received a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation to address the issue of safe routes to school within the district. A committee is currently looking into several issues, including what to do about the problem of snow-covered sidewalks.

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