The signs were up and the police were out in school zones across the city Tuesday as thousands of kids returned to classrooms.

The speed limit of 30 km/h has now been extended to include all 43 junior high schools in the city. The limit is enforced from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Edmonton police had a simple message for drivers: slow down and be aware when you pass through school zones. 

Speed zones extended to junior highs 

"If you're dropping kids off, be aware of the signage," said Sgt. Kerry Bates, the Edmonton police traffic safety co-ordinator. 

"Don't be dropping kids off in the travel lanes, make sure you're at the curb in a zone dedicated for parking and not for busses. Don't do any fancy manoeuvres in traffic, like U-turns or those types of things, just because you're in a hurry.

"It falls back again on planning your trip and allowing yourself time."

Two officers manning a radar gun made sure drivers kept to the posted limit near St. Kateri School on Tuesday morning. Congestion and long lineups of parents dropping off kids did not appear to pose problems at St. Kateri in the city's southeast.

Kids and parents walk to St. Kateri Catholic School on the first day of class

Kids and parents walk to St. Kateri Catholic School on Tuesday for the first day of class.

Some parents walked their kids to school. Many of those who drove chose to park several blocks away to avoid causing traffic jams at the school's roundabout.

"We're hoping to try the roundabout this year, now that they're a little bit older," said Kim Ellis, whose daughters are in Grade 1 and Grade 3 at the school. "We'll see how that goes. I think that's a good option, but for now we'll just park and walk."

Isabel Hazzard took a route that allowed her to pull up to the sidewalk in front of the school, so her kids wouldn't have to cross any streets. 

"I think it's really important that everybody slows down and watches for those kids," said Hazzard.

Playgrounds limits may be next 

Later this week, city council will take a look at playground speed zones.

"Playgrounds are often near schools or in stand-alone spots," said Coun. Bev Esslinger, who was one of several council members who pushed to extend the school zones to include junior highs.

A sign outside St. Kateri Catholic School warns drivers about their speed

A sign outside St. Kateri Catholic School warns drivers about their speed.

"The whole idea behind playground zones is keeping kids safe where they're gathering or where they may be distracted playing," Esslinger said.

There are 178 stand-alone playgrounds in the city that have no speed reduction in place, according to a report prepared for council.

Another 194 playgrounds are adjacent to schools. The report recommended that the school-zone speed limit be extended to cover playgrounds beyond school hours.

Council members will debate the issue on Thursday at a community and public services committee meeting.