Hi there! I am Ashley Christensen, and I’ve been involved with building Safe Routes efforts in six rural counties in Northeast Iowa for over eight years. Just like with every other aspect of our livelihoods right now, I am trying to figure out how to best adapt our approach to Walking and Biking School Buses this fall.
Of our 12 Walking and Biking School Bus routes in operation last fall, only four are active this fall. For those that are walking, we are making face masks, hand sanitizer and distancing ropes available. The rest of the routes have decided to hit pause until spring because of comfort levels of guardians and volunteers and because of school schedules.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, one school district in the region that has decided to eliminate in-town busing and instead implement daily before and after school Walking School Bus routes in multiple communities, completely coordinated and led by school staff members.
I support all of these choices made about Walking and Biking School Bus routes this fall. And I don’t think one option is better than the other because each community, school, neighborhood and family has different needs. I know how important the physical activity and social interaction opportunities provided by Walking and Biking School Buses are for growing minds and bodies (for so so SO many reasons…perhaps a topic for a future blog post…). But I also know that the health and safety concerns of this pandemic are very real.
I just hope, regardless of whether or not families are part of an organized Walking or Biking School Bus this fall, that kids still have opportunities to be active as much as possible each day.