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  • Author: Jamie F. Chriqui x
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Lindsey Turner, Jamie F. Chriqui and Frank J. Chaloupka

Background:

Active transportation to school provides an important way for children to meet physical activity recommendations. The “walking school bus” (WSB) is a strategy whereby adults walk with a group of children to and from school along a fixed route. This study assessed whether school-organized WSB programs varied by school characteristics, district policies, and state laws.

Methods:

School data were gathered by mail-back surveys in nationally representative samples of U.S. public elementary schools during the 2008−2009 and 2009−2010 school years (n = 632 and 666, respectively). Corresponding district policies and state laws were obtained.

Results:

Nationwide, 4.2% of schools organized a WSB program during 2008−2009, increasing to 6.2% by 2009−2010. Controlling for demographic covariates, schools were more likely to organize a WSB program where there was a strong district policy pertaining to safe active routes to school (OR = 2.14, P < .05), or a state law requiring crossing guards around schools (OR = 2.72, P < .05).

Conclusions:

WSB programs are not common but district policies and state laws are associated with an increased likelihood of elementary schools organizing these programs. Policymaking efforts may encourage schools to promote active transportation.

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Hannah G. Calvert, Lindsey Turner, Julien Leider, Elizabeth Piekarz-Porter and Jamie F. Chriqui

Background: Schools are a setting in which students learn about the importance of lifelong physical activity (PA). Best practice guidelines indicate that schools should provide students with adequate physical education (PE) minutes and opportunities to engage in PA throughout the school day. Methods: Data from the nationally representative School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study in 2014–2015 were utilized to assess PA practices (including PE) at 412 public elementary schools. These data were linked to state- and district-level policy data from the National Wellness Policy Study to examine the relationships between state law and school district policies and school practices. Results: Just over half of the schools were in a state with a policy regarding PE minutes. The comprehensiveness and strength of PA policies were higher at the district level than the state level, but were still low overall. Comprehensiveness of PA policies at the state level, but not at the district level, was related to schools within those states that provide more PA practices. Conclusions: Existence of PE and PA policies at the state level appears to be an important predictor of school PA practices. Having more comprehensive policies at the state level may be an important facilitator of school implementation of comprehensive PA practices.