Walking School Buses

WaA DAY - GRAPHIC.ENGlking to school has undeniable benefits for mental and physical health.  APS has long encouraged use of active transportation and routinely provides resources for families who live within established walk zones. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, APS is encouraging walking and biking to school now more than ever, to support families in existing and expanded walk zones; help reduce demand on school buses; and discourage vehicular traffic around schools when in-school instruction resumes.

Walking School Buses are one way to make walking to school easier for families while maximizing the health benefits of walking for students and reducing congestion and pollution in neighborhoods around schools.  A Walking School Bus is defined as a group of students walking to school with one or more adults. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their students to school or as structured as a planned route with meeting points, a timetable and a schedule of trained volunteers. This WalkArlington blog post sums up the Walking School Bus experience quite well!

In preparation for the return to on-campus instruction in the 2020-21 school year, APS has updated, customized and consolidated resources to supporting formation of Walking School Buses through:

  • Reaching out to PTAs, school communities and families for input on guidance and resources needed to support formation of Walking School Buses
  • Adaptation of existing Walking School Bus resources to comply with social distancing and other COVID-19 guidance
  • Development of specific COVID-19 guidelines for Walking School Bus leaders/families
  • Sharing of communications templates for school/family outreach
  • Coordination with PTA and school community on outreach to families about the benefits of Walking School Buses and resources available to “make it easy” to organize locally
  • Technical assistance with start-up and use of maps and route planning resources
  • Provision of supplies/equipment to support Walking School Buses (such as fluorescent vests, masks, and encouragement items)
  • Possible allocation of Safe Routes to School grant funds to support COVID-related requirements

THIS BUS IS US.APS 2020Drawing on resources developed by the Safe Routes Partnership, National Center for Safe Routes to School, Virginia Department of Transportation, and Safe Routes to School coordinators in the DMV to support school transportation during the COVID pandemic, APS SRTS has put together this 2020 guide to help you get started with Walking School Buses and Bike Trains so we’re all ready for return to school.

Walking School Buses – 2020 Resources

Additional Walking School Bus and Bike Train Resources

crop 20201210_122955 Walking School Bus and Bike Train Kits

To support communities and neighborhoods who are interested in organizing Walking School Buses and Bike Trains, APS SRTS has also assembled Walking School Bus and Bike Train Kits, which include:

  • Yellow SRTS Masks for Students
  • Fluorescent Vests for Adults
  • Frog Lights for Backpack Straps and Bike Handles
  • Reflective Safety Items such as wristbands, zipper pulls and clip-on flash lights
  • Bike Seat Covers (for Bike Trains!)
  • Signs/Templates for Signs
  • Copies of Share VA Roads in English and Spanish
  • BikeArlington Maps and WalkArlington Walkabouts Brochures

Kits are available to Leaders with established Walking School Buses and Bike Trains on a first come, first served basis, while supplies last. Contact APS Safe Routes to School Coordinator.