‘This is very sad for us’: Middletown cancels Safety Town for 2020

Add another summertime ritual to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time in 42 years, there won’t be a Safety Town for incoming kindergartners in the Middletown City School District.

Middletown Police Chief David Birk and Kristy Duritsch, executive director of the Safety Council of Southwestern Ohio, announced Tuesday the annual Safety Town will not be held this summer.

“This is very sad for us,” Duritsch said in a release. “We know these kids and their parents look forward to this rite of passage each summer, but canceling due to the COVID-19 virus, is the smart thing to do to keep their families healthy.”

She spoke with Middletown Health Commissioner Jackie Phillips and said it was “the right decision.”

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Phillips said: “It is better to be safe than sorry.”

Each summer since 1977, about 300 kids entering kindergarten have participated in Safety Town that teaches children safety tips.

Birk said they looked at possibly doing a virtual Safety Town but found it would be very difficult to do since large gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned the state’s Stay at Home orders. He said police and Duritsch are exploring doing short school, pedestrian and bus safety videos that can be posted to the Safety Council, police and city webpages.

ExplorePHOTOS: Butler County kids learn at the annual Safety Town through the years

The Middletown Safety Town program is free and supported through sponsorships and donations. Officer Robin Rawlins teaches lessons on pedestrian, fire, stranger, seatbelt safety and gun safety. The kids get to drive pedal cars through the miniature village at Amanda Elementary School.

Duritsch said sign-ups were to begin in early May. She said those incoming kindergartners missing out this summer may be permitted to attend Safety Town next year.

Birk said COVID-19 has canceled two other events planned by police: Casting with a Cop in May and the Jeep-N-Eats event, both planned for Smith Park.

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