AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin ISD students will join thousands of children around the world for the 20th annual Walk to School Day.
The district is encouraging students and teachers to walk or bike to class today. At Hill Elementary in Northwest Austin, students, parents and teacher met at a church nearby and walked to the campus together.
AISD says about 20 percent of its students walk or bike everyday. School leaders want to boost that number because the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
“We find that walking in the morning gets the jitters out,” said Amir Emamian, a spokesman for the city’s “Safe Route to School” program. “Kids are amped up and anxious So, that five or 10 minutes of walking gets the jitters out so kids are ready to learn.”
Emamian said there are several reasons ways students can use their legs or wheels to get to school. Some students live too far away and walking the distance from home to school takes too much time. One solution, parents can drive students a few blocks away and walk with them to class.
Parents may also be hesitant to allow students to bike or walk because of safety concerns. The district has an education team that visits schools during PE classes, teaching students road safety or giving them bike lessons.
Emamian said one thing parents can do is buy students reflective gear, so drivers can see them. And, groups of students walking together is much safer than students going alone.
“The more students there are, the more visible they are and the safer it is,” Emamian said.
AISD is also testing a pilot program that allows students who walk to school to swipe a card when they arrive. It tracks the number of steps students take to and from home and sends parents an email alerting them to their child’s arrival.