Back to School Together

Key Travel Strategies

Whether walking, biking, riding the school bus or traveling by private vehicle, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and promote health. Every community and school has different challenges and strengths to bring to this effort.

The Committee on Safe & Healthy Journeys to School During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond encourages school decision makers to consider the following strategies:

School Travel Strategies to Promote Health and Reduce COVID-19 Transmission

  • Provide families with information about the different transportation options available and what’s being done to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Encourage active travel to school.

    • Students lost opportunities for physical activity over the previous school year and active travel – whether it’s all the way to school, to an off-site parking location or to the bus stop – is a way to build physical activity into the school day.
    • Walking, biking and rolling take place in open air; build physical activity into the school day; reduce vehicle congestion at the school; and do not contribute to asthma-aggravating emissions.
  • Address the safety of students using active transportation by managing vehicle speeds and creating infrastructure to support active travel such as sidewalks and bike paths that separate students from motor vehicle drivers.
    • The World Health Organization recommends that the speed of motorized traffic should be lower than 20 mph in areas where child pedestrians and bicyclists mix with motorists.
  • Manage private vehicle traffic arriving to the school campus to reduce congestion and help protect people walking, biking and rolling.
    • When possible, identify off-campus parking locations for families who must drive and encourage them to walk the remainder of the route to school.
  • Prioritize underserved groups particularly communities of color, students with disabilities, and low-income neighborhoods.
  • Implement American Academy of Pediatrics Supplemental Information: COVID-19 and Safe Transportation in Motor Vehicles (updated 8/11/21) for school bus travel.
    • For some families, the school bus is the best option, but it presents challenges for the prevention of COVID-19 transmission.
    • Explain to families the steps being taken to help prevent COVID-19 transmission on school buses including proper masking, improved ventilation, physical distancing and immunization of bus drivers and attendants. In some states, governors require school bus drivers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

 

Strategies listed on this page were based on information available as of August 2021. Given the uncertainties presented by the pandemic, this information may change based on new evidence as it becomes available.