Due to social distancing guidelines limiting the capacity of its school buses, a Virginia school district is expanding the walk zones for some of its schools.
Arlington Public Schools stated on its website that 16 of its 24 elementary schools will have the expanded walk zones, in which it will not provide school bus service, for the 2020-21 school year. The district’s buses, according to the website, will only be able to carry 11 students at a time and for routes that typically transport a high number of students, this will require several trips to and from school.
“This is a big change from what we usually carry and means that we must make some changes to where and how we pick up bus riders so we can focus our bus service on routes that are farthest from school and allow them to move quickly between stops and school,” the district explained on its website.
Arlington Public Schools is encouraging families who live in the impacted areas to walk or bike to school, instead of driving, to not only avoid traffic and the need to find a parking space, but also to “give students an opportunity for some movement before the start of what will otherwise be a fairly sedentary day.”
The district is creating route maps for families who are affected by the expanded walk zones, developing resources for those want to form a walking school bus or bike train, and working with Arlington County to provide crossing support at locations where the expansion would require students to cross a major road, according to the district’s website.
Arlington Public Schools began its 2020-21 school year with all remote learning on Sept. 8, according to its website. In a school board meeting last week, the district announced that special-needs students will return for in-person learning in mid- to late-October; English learners, pre-K through third grade and career and technical education students will return in early- to mid-November; and all other students can resume in-person learning in early December, according to a news release from the district.