With children starting to return to on-site learning at schools across Victoria, the morning drop-off routine will start again for many families, but will look a little different due to coronavirus.
Author: VicHealth works with health promotion experts to create a Victoria where everyone can enjoy better health and wellbeing.
Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (14 October 2020). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au
Previous VicHealth research has shown more than 70 per cent of parents who travel with their kids to school drop them off by car, even those living less than 750 metres from their school.
As we emerge from coronavirus restrictions, now is the perfect time to ditch the car and get active on the way to school by walking, riding or scooting.
So many families have been walking and riding around their neighbourhoods during lockdown – so let’s continue the momentum and get active on the journey to and from school.
Walking, riding, scooting or skating to school has enormous benefits for our kids’ physical health, but it also helps build confidence, independence and improve road safety skills.
Travelling by bike or foot can also help ease traffic on our roads near schools, which is important for keeping the roads safe and to help with physical distancing.
With the weather warming up and many parents working from home, it’s an ideal time to make physical activity part of the term 4 routine.
- For metropolitan Melbourne, the 5km radius rule does not apply for travelling to and from school.
- Remember that face masks need to be worn by adults and kids over the age of 12 when outside the home and physical distancing still needs to be maintained.
- Encourage your children to practice good hygiene when arriving at school in the morning and returning home at the end of the day. The DHHS has more advice on hygiene in schools.
- If children are travelling independently, make sure they know to go to and from school as directly as possible.
General active travel tips for parents
- Part way is ok! If the walk to school is too far, park a few blocks from the school and allow your child to walk the rest of the way.
- Keep an eye on your child’s behaviour and independence and look for signs of readiness.
- Help your child become familiar with the local neighbourhood and identify the safest routes (e.g. where there are safe road crossings)
- Practice and reinforce the skills your child needs to travel safely, such as riding a bike and knowing the road rules.
- Slowly build independence by letting your child do things gradually. You could start by driving part way and allowing your child to walk the rest.
- Make a plan with your child about strategies for when things go wrong, like getting lost or if a stranger approaches them.
- Agree on a plan with your child for the transition towards independence and set milestones and boundaries.
- Talk to your school about their Walk to School plans – do they have safe walking routes already in place?