After over a year of remote learning, students at SF public schools will begin a staggered return to the classroom on April 12, beginning with select elementary schools. (Here’s the full timeline.) If you’re an SF family returning to the classroom, you might feel relief mixed with anxiety about what could be a tumultuous transition.
Transportation is likely among those concerns: parents and administrators alike recognize that families who may have used public transportation or carpooling in the before-times may be tempted to revert to the family car. You may be thinking, “How do I get my student to school safely, while avoiding frustrating, dangerous traffic snarls outside the building?”
Your SF Bicycle Coalition, along with other members of the SF Safe Routes to School Partnership, is here to help. Biking, walking, or otherwise rolling to school together as a family can start off this transition right, and our annual Bike & Roll Week is the perfect opportunity to try it. This week-long annual celebration of students traveling by their own power, originally scheduled for April, is now taking place May 10-14 to give schools a few weeks to adjust to new protocols. We’ll have fun activities and prizes at every age level, K-12 — whether you’re a teacher or a parent/caregiver, check out how to participate!
You can incorporate these activities for getting to school from Day 1. Biking, walking, and otherwise rolling are great ways to transition to a new routine — children and parents/caregivers start the day with fresh air and physical activity, which have been shown to have a big impact on student success and mood stability. While other families sit stuck in their cars in long, frustrating dropoff lines, you can spend invaluable time outdoors with your child, talking and preparing them mentally and emotionally for this transition. And each car trip replaced by walking, biking, or rolling eliminates air-clogging fumes from idling cars.
If you’re planning on biking, here are some return-to-school tips:
- Scope out your route to make sure you and your child will both be — and feel — safe. Consider incorporating the city’s many Slow Streets or other car-free or car-light paths into your journey!
- If you’re riding on streets with cars, children under 13 years old should ride on the sidewalk while parents ride next to them in the street or bike lane.
- Talk to your child about safety before starting out: wear their helmet correctly, stop at all intersections until the parent/caregiver gives the okay, and keep an eye out at all driveways for vehicles pulling out or in.
- Consider getting other families in on the action by starting a bike train or a walking school bus.
- For more tips and community, consider joining our city-wide Families Who Bike group on Nextdoor.
Congratulations for getting through this past year of remote learning. We know it’s been challenging for most families, especially those with less access to support and resources. We hope that, as you make your way back to school, you can have some fun and get yourself mentally and physically prepared.