As schools prepare to reopen on 1 June, one of the key issues from a road safety perspective is enabling families to walk and cycle safely in order to adhere to best social distancing practices.
While there remains many questions and concerns about the move, the Government currently plans for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in England to return after half term.
The Government also hopes to have Year 10 pupils – those sitting their GCSE exams in the next academic year – back in the classroom before the summer holidays.
In preparation for re-opening, much of the focus has been on how schools can practice social distancing in the classroom.
However, another key aspect will be enabling pupils and their parents to travel to and from school safely – with a particular focus on active travel.
In its response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has repeatedly stressed the importance of walking and cycling.
Earlier this month, it announced a £2bn funding packing to deliver a step change towards active travel – the first stage of which is £250m for emergency safety measures, such as pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements and cycle and bus-only streets.
Responding to the announcement, the charity Living Streets has called on local authorities to use the funding to implement ‘School Streets’.
School Streets see cars banned from outside school gates at peak drop off and pick up times, in a bid to alleviate congestion and make the walk to school safer.
Living Streets says introducing School Streets will also free up space for families to socially distance.
The results of a new survey suggest the introduction of more School Streets would be a popular move.
The 2020 Road Safety Survey was carried by the Road Safety News editorial team, with 923 respondents answering questions on emerging themes – including School Streets.
More than two thirds (67%) support the introduction of School Streets, while there was also acknowledgement of their benefits.
While 52% of respondents believe closing roads outside schools is likely to increase levels of walking and cycling among pupils, 57% feel it would reduce pollution levels.
Meanwhile, Road Safety GB has produced new guidance to help school crossing patrol services restart and operate safely as schools re-open.
The new guidance is available for all Road Safety GB members as a download from the members’ area of the Road Safety GB website.
It has been produced to support service providers during this challenging time, and comprises guidance and a checklist to consider when developing their own SCP Service Recovery Action Plan.
The guidance covers SCP assessment, site priority, site location and operation, PPE, Covid-19 risk assessment and the ‘new school day’.