Student Safety Prompting Changes in CMS Traffic Pattern

Student Safety Prompting Changes in CMS Traffic Pattern
Posted on 08/01/2023

Transportation patterns in the vicinity of Covington Middle School will change on Aug. 23 to accommodate changes in bus and vehicle traffic.  All Alleghany Highlands Public Schools students in grades 6-8 will attend Covington Middle School at 606 S. Lexington Ave. in Covington (former Covington High School).  

The changes, based on a traffic analysis by a private engineering firm, are designed to enhance student and vehicular safety before and after school. The study by the Timmons Group was commissioned by the City of Covington and thoroughly reviewed by the Covington Division of Police.  

“The focus of this study was to create a safe environment in the areas where students are being dropped off and picked up by parents without increasing traffic congestion for other travelers,” said Covington Police Chief Chris Smith.

On school days, traffic patterns will be altered during student arrival from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., and student release between 3 and 4 p.m. A section of South Lexington Avenue in front of the school will be closed to vehicular traffic during those time periods. The closure area will stretch from South Lexington’s intersection with Oak Street to its intersection with West Chestnut Street near the railroad underpass.

Only vehicles designated for student drop off and pick up times will be allowed to enter the restricted area. Drivers will be granted access to the area utilizing placards that will be issued by Alleghany Highlands Public Schools. The placards will be displayed on the front dash of vehicles.

Oak Street and West Chestnut will be open to vehicle traffic during the drop-off and pick-up times. However, drivers utilizing Oak Street can expect delays due to buses waiting to enter the bus loop near the CMS gym. 

Drivers will not be allowed to park or wait along South Lexington, Oak, South Marion, or West Chestnut. In addition, drivers will not be allowed to park on CMS faculty parking lots located on Oak Street near Curfman Hall, on Oak and Marion near the Covington Recreation Center, and West Chestnut near Wright Way Motors.

Signs will be posted to alert drivers to the changes and Covington police officers will be on scene in the mornings and afternoons to help direct traffic and raise safety awareness. As a safety measure, signs have been erected to alert drivers to pedestrian crosswalks on South Lexington in front of CMS. Signs have also been placed at crosswalks on Craig Avenue behind the school.  

“We are anticipating delays initially during the first few weeks of school. Covington Middle School and the Covington Division of Police and will be using this time to evaluate the drop-off and pick-up times, in an effort to streamline any issues that become prevalent,” Chief Smith said.

The plan helps keep traffic flowing safely around the school, as well as provide emergency vehicles access to the area.

 “The Chestnut Street underpass will still be accessible to all traffic and Lexington will be the only route that will be closed during the time of student drop off and release. All other routes will be accessible to the public,” Chief Smith said.

School officials are urging parents to help alleviate the potential for traffic congestion by placing their students on school buses. 

The City of Covington commissioned the traffic study as overall planning for the full consolidation of Alleghany Highlands Public Schools in the fall. The conversion of Covington High School to Covington Middle School is expected to bring a higher influx of traffic to areas around the school. Covington Middle School will house students from throughout Covington and Alleghany County in grades 6-8. AHPS expects approximately 620 students to attend CMS. While Covington High School’s enrollment ranged broadly over the years, enrollment at CHS in the past school year was approximately 350. 

In its analysis the Timmons Group focused on how to best use the existing traffic system to develop bus patterns, and drop off and pickup patterns for parents who choose to transport their students to and from school. 

Engineers used a camera system to monitor traffic patterns on roadways that lead to the school. The cameras also monitored bus drop-off sites and areas where parents dropped off students at Covington High School. Lexington Avenue, Oak Street, Chestnut Street, and entrances to the school were the primary focus areas. Initial information about the traffic study was released to the public on March 1.  

“We really appreciate all the hard work that has been put into the planning for this traffic pattern,” said Kim Halterman and Melinda Snead-Johnson, leaders of AHPS. “It is also important for all of us to remember that the first days of school, even in a year of few changes, require us all to be patient with each other as we adjust to routines. We want to thank the Covington Middle School community for their grace and support as we implement this plan.”  

“We ask the public to be patient and cooperative as we move through this transition,” said Eric Tyree, director of maintenance and transportation for AHPS. 

The Alleghany Highlands Public Schools Division was created when Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, and Jackson River Technical Center merged on July 1, 2022. The initial phase of the merger combined the school boards and administrative offices. 

The schools will be fully consolidated this fall, with the major changes occurring at Covington Middle School and Alleghany High School. The former Clifton Middle School in Low Moor is now called Clifton Academy. That building will house AHPS’ customized learning programs. Alleghany High School in Valley Ridge will serve as the joint high school, and house grades 9-12.

With approximately 2,700 students, the Alleghany Highlands Public School Division is jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington. School division news and events are regularly updated on Facebook at AHPublicSchools. The school’s division’s web address is The school year begins for students on Aug. 23. 




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