NORTH PLAINFEILD, NJ -- In a town where almost every student walks to class, crossing guards are a vital part of every school day. While most residents think, when they think about it, that these people are school employees they actually work for the Borough of North Plainfield and are overseen by the Chief of Police.
North Plainfield has 23 intersections where they place crossing guards, primarily at major roads and near schools where pedestrians tend to bottle up and there are large number of cars dropping students off. The locations are listed on the North Plainfield website, and TAP into North Plainfield has put together an interactive Google Map.
Guards are at each of these crossings from 7:20 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. every school day. On shortened day schedules, such as September 4, the schedule is adjusted to accomodate the different hours. Guards are not on duty at lunch time if students are authorized to eat at home.
North Plainfield is also one of three communities in Somerset County working with RideWise on the Safe Routes to School program for its primary schools. As part of that program the schools encourage their students to walk to school on the first Wednesday of every month, and provide them with prizes and awards for the classes that do the best job. Mayor Michael Giordano takes the time every month to walk with the kids.
Crossing guards are reglated by state law, which requires that they be United States citizens, residents of New Jersey, of "good moral character" and not have been convicted of an offence related to moral terpitude. They must undergo at least two hours of training on traffic control and twenty hours of supervised student crossing. These requirements are waived if the crossing guard is also a police officer, who in North Plainfield largely serve as substitutes when a regular guard calls out.
Anyone interested in being a crossing guard you can apply with the police department at any time even if there isn't a current opportunity. They maintain a bank of resumes and when an opening occurs they review all applications from the past year.