Active Travel to School: Policies and Attitudes of School and District Leaders

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health

Background:

When promoting active travel to school, it is important to consider school and district policies as well as attitudes of school and district administrators.

Methods:

School principals and district officials in South Carolina participated in the School Travel Survey. Frequency distributions and Chi-squared tests were used to analyze the data.

Results:

Three hundred fourteen persons responded to the survey (53.2% response rate). Sixty-five percent of district officials reported having a clear position about students walking to school, 80.0% of which were supportive. Seventy-two percent of principals reported having a clear position about walking to school, 67% of which were supportive. These positions were most commonly communicated either orally or through memos or other written documentation rather than through official, written policies or directives. Respondents who personally supported walking to school were more likely to believe that walking to school benefited students' health (χ2 = 8.82, df = 1, P = .003) and academic performance (χ2 = 14.87, df = 1, P < .0001).

Conclusions:

Promotion of walking to school should encourage schools and districts to develop official, written directives or policies. Promotional efforts may benefit from linking active travel to academic performance and health.

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Mathews is with the Dept of Health and Exercise Science, Furman University, Greenville, SC. Pluto is with the Dept of South Carolina Healthy Schools, South Carolina Dept of Education, Columbia, SC. Ogoussan is with the Dept of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Banda is with the Dept of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

Journal of Physical Activity and Health