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Parents worried over children's safety at new Vauban school site

Parents worried over children's safety at new Vauban school site

3 min. 09.11.2017 From our online archive
Vauban executive director, Bruno Lorrain, says there is no problem with traffic and that the situation has improved compared with the previous Limpertsberg site.

Questions have been raised over the safety of primary pupils at Luxembourg's Vauban school in Gasperich. According to the parents association (Association des Parents d'Elèves - APE) the area around the school is not sufficiently protected against possible road accidents.

They are also worried the arrival of 1,200 secondary school students in February 2018 which could worsen the situation.

"The situation is critical," Estelle Georges, president of APE, said. "An accident could occur because the site is surrounded by a construction site: nonexistent pavements, saturated parking, road signs..."

As parents of nursery school children wait in their cars for the school doors to open, one mother explains she has to arrivd 45 minutes early. "When I pick up my daughter at 3.45pm I have to get here by 3.15pm," she said. "There are a few parking spaces reserved for parents with children in the younger section but there aren't many and they go quickly. Then I just kill time in my car."

Another mother said she can arrive well in advance on Mondays, when she does not work, but the other days she is rushed to get there and find a parking space in time. "It isn't unusual for my son to have to wait in the courtyard," she said. "Plus, we have just found out that stones have been placed on a path where we used to be able to park."

The president of the APE described Vauban as a "good school and that's why it has so much success". But, she said, parents find themselves in the same situation as in Limpertsberg, "without enough space to park to pick up their children".

"We are afraid of an accident," one early years teacher said. "Today there aren't too many children, there are 30 who we have to take to the bus around 200m away."

According to one of the security officers on the site who ensures the smooth running of children leaving their classrooms, large buses do not park directly in front the school.

While the previous building in Limpertsberg had a day care centre (foyer scolaire) within the primary school building, it has not been included in the new campus and children have to take a bus to various centres.

"The new site doesn't have enough space for a foyer scolaire for more than 200 children," the school's communications officer, Elodie Bernd, explained. "The board opted for other offers such as clubs rather than a day care centre. This will be discussed with parents soon."

Among the 800 pupils at the primary school, 500 use the nine buses which stop at 45 bus stops around Luxembourg City and its suburbs.

"Two people per bus accompany the children in the mornings and at the end of the day," Vauban executive director, Bruno Lorrain, said. "And four security officers manage the flow. On one side of the car park there are buses and on the other side, the shuttle buses to foyers. For us, there is no problem with traffic on the site and children are safe. Things have even improved compared with the situation in Limpertsberg where there were no more parking spaces. Today, a larger shuttle service allows children to get to school by shuttle bus."

For the APE this situation is not normal as school fees increase and the school's mobility provision stagnates. And the prospect of the arrival of secondary school students from February 2018 does not reassure the parents association, which has already raised the alarm with the school.

But Bruno Lorrain says the arrival of secondary students will not be a problem as the Howald station will open in December and additional buses will be added in February.

"After the winter holidays the City of Luxembourg will increase the regular connection from the central station to the 'francophonie' stop on boulevard Kockelscheuer, with eight to 10 buses per hour in both directions. The arrival of secondary pupils will therefore not be a problem."

(By Virginie Orlandi, translated by Heledd Pritchard)