School staff information
School staff play an important role in educating students, parents and communities on safe walking and biking and may take the lead on other aspects of Safe Routes to School programs.
Why Safe Routes?
With the positive relationships between walking and biking, academic achievement, and student health, districts and schools should consider Safe Routes to School as central to their educational and operational goals. Teachers and principals can have a significant influence by promoting and implementing programs of all types.
Getting Started for Teachers
Classroom teachers have a daily opportunity to help students, parents, and the larger school community understand the many benefits of walking and biking to school and to help them do so safely.
Simply making announcements about Walk/Bike to School Day events that encourage active transportation to school will bring awareness to walking and biking as travel options. Teachers can expand the reach of these announcements by sending flyers home about the benefits of active travel to school. If students are unable to walk or bike to school, teachers can try organizing a walk or bike at school event, where everyone takes a lap around the building or track before class starts. See the Encouragement page for more fun ideas to get students walking and biking.
The Minnesota Safe Routes to School Online Resource Center has a wealth of standards-based activities appropriate for each grade level. Working these activities into lesson plans can help students learn about walking and biking safety, as well as the importance of being active and healthy.
- Walk! Bike! Fun! Curriculum - This two-part curriculum for students ages 5-13 is designed specifically for Minnesota schools and is structured to meet Minnesota education standards. Students will learn traffic rules and regulations, the potential hazards to traveling, and handling skills needed to bike and walk effectively, appropriately and safely through their community.
- Facilitator’s Guide to Engaging Middle School Youth [.pdf] - This guide from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership offers practical tools for adult facilitators to promote safe walking, bicycling, and public transit to and from school for middle school students.
- Classroom Activity Ideas - Safe Routes to School is about more than physical activity. Help students understand the benefits by incorporating walking and biking themes into other classroom subjects with these ideas from the National Center for Safe Routes to School.
For more details and assistance with classroom activities or share success stories, contact Minnesota's Safe Routes to School Coordinator.
Getting Started for Principals
As the leader of the school, the principal has a packed schedule and many responsibilities. The good news is being involved in SRTS does not need to take a lot of time. Below is a sample list, with several simple ways principals can make an impact:
- Designate a staff person to lead Safe Routes to School efforts
- Solicit a team of SRTS leaders and volunteers at your school to organize and program walking and biking events
- Add information on walking and biking to the school website
- Provide information on walking and biking at Back to School Night or in backpack mail at the start of each school year
- Deliver a motivational speech to participants on Walk or Bike to School Day
- Challenge students to walk and bicycle to school as often as possible
- Lead a walking and/or biking safety assembly
- Offer safety tips during morning announcements in the days leading up to a Safe Routes to School event
- Engage the parent teacher association (PTA) and inform them of the many benefits of SRTS and how they can help with the school’s program or events
- Encourage teachers to conduct walking- and biking-related activities in the classroom
- Send notes home to parents encouraging them to participate in the event
- Lead a walk or bike to school parade, walking school bus [.pdf] or bike train [.pdf]
- Judge a walking/biking safety poster contest
In addition to the suggestions above, many policies and programs can be advanced at the school and district level to address concerns, improve safety and increase walking and biking to school. School leaders can shape how students travel to and from school and principals should consider being more involved in Safe Routes to School in the following ways:
- Convene and participate in a Safe Routes to School Task Force or School Team to identify and prioritize projects that get more students physically active by walking and bicycling.
- See the Engaging Stakeholders in the Safe Routes to School Planning Process guide to learn more about who should be on the team.
- Ensure student transportation and arrival/dismissal policies support walking and bicycling.
- Find examples and guidance in the National Partnership’s Safe Routes to School Local Policy Guide.
- Conduct the national Safe Routes to School parent surveys and annual student tallies to understand how students travel to school and identify locations where safety improvements are needed.
- Visit saferoutesdata.org to access survey and tally forms.