Walking School Bus Programs in U.S. Public Elementary Schools

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The Issue:

Walking school bus (WSB) programs provide an opportunity for children to meet their daily physical activity recommendation.

This study examines school-organized WSB programs, and the degree to which these programs vary by school characteristics, district policies, and state laws.

Key Findings

  • The percentage of elementary schools reporting the organization of a WSB program increased from 4.2 percent in 2008-2009 to 6.2 percent in 2009-2010.

  • Both district policy and state law were significantly associated with the presence of a WSB program.

  • Schools with WSB programs were more common in the Northeast and the West.

  • Schools with a majority of Latino students (1.8% in 2009-2010) were significantly less likely to organize a WSB as compared to schools with a majority of White students (1.8% percent in 2009-2010 compared to 8.3%).

Conclusion:

Active transportation to and from school helps children meet their daily physical activity requirements. District policies and state laws may encourage active transportation for children.

About the Study:

Data from all three levels—school, district, and state—were collected during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years. School-specific data was collected using mailed surveys. District data was collected via Internet searches and follow-up to district offices. State data was collected through primary legal research techniques. A total of 632 public elementary schools participated.

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