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In 2021, Albemarle County Public Schools decided to enforce the current walk zone distance criteria across the Division. Schools that already had walk zones were Albemarle High, Monticello High, Lakeside Middle, Hollymead Elementary and Woodbrook Elementary. Schools that saw additional changes due to the enforcement of the walk criteria included Albemarle High, Henley Middle, Lakeside Middle, and Western Albemarle High.
Driver shortages continue to be a challenge and since we do have some walkable school communities, ACPS intends to continue to expand our walk zones.
In 2023, there will be additional changes to Western Albemarle High School, Henley Middle School, Lakeside Middle School, and Hollymead Elementary. NEW Walk Zones will be enforced for Baker-Butler Elementary, Brownsville Elementary, Crozet Elementary, Mountain View Elementary, and Journey Middle schools.
Walk Route Distance Criteria
Approved school walking routes will be measured from up to one (1) mile walking distance of the student’s residence* or current school bus stop to the entrance of the school grounds** for elementary students. It will be measured up to one and one half miles (1.5) walking distance from the student's residence or current school bus stop to the entrance of the school grounds for secondary school.
Additionally, elementary students residing up to one-tenth (0.1) or secondary students residing up to two-tenths (0.2) of a mile beyond a designated walk route distance may also be incorporated into that walk route distance, if doing so is considered particularly cost effective and/or efficient for the school division (such as extending the walk route distance to the end of a street or eliminating a relatively isolated bus stop).
Special Safety Exceptions
Regardless of the distance from home to school, bus transportation shall be provided, if, in the judgment of the Division Superintendent, or designee, there is not a walking route free of unusual safety hazards. Paved walk route surfaces are not required.
Unusual Safety Hazards
It is understood that all traffic situations through which students must travel present some degree of hazard, which is often dependent on the age of the students. We will recommend walking routes free from “unusual safety hazards.” Unusual safety hazards are those things that may seriously jeopardize the safety of students. Just like evaluating bus stops, each walking path has distinct characteristics. Some examples of unusual hazards could be railroad crossings, lack of a crossing guard on a highly used main road, or seclusion of the pathway. A very large hill or a very sharp curve that prevents cars from seeing walkers could also be an unusual hazard.
ACPS will recommend walking routes to and from school. Ultimately, families/parents are responsible for monitoring their children’s routes to and from school. Parents/guardians are also responsible for providing supervision that is appropriate for the student’s age, maturity and conditions of the chosen route. On school bus transportation, ACPS requires adult supervision for Kindergarten and pre-k students, as a reminder.
ACPS staff does not assess all possible walking and bicycling routes, supervise those routes, or guarantee the safety of any particular route. However, ACPS will review routes for unusual hazards upon request and will collaborate with other agencies in the development of pedestrian and biking route enhancements and projects as appropriate.
Transportation may be provided on a conditional basis to an area based on the need for additional improvements to walking routes such as sidewalk completion, railings, crossing guards, etc. When the improvements have been satisfied, affected parents will be notified, and transportation service will no longer be eligible. If improvements are not completed by the opening of school, the change in service shall be deferred until the following school year, unless parents were notified in advance.
*The measurement will consider the end of a driveway or the perimeter of a property when measuring, particularly in cases of rural housing. The measurement does not begin at the front door of a property. We will incorporate the distance to current bus stops when it is particularly efficient to do so.
**The measurement will end at the start of the school property/grounds. The measurement does not continue to the front door of the school.