Back to School + COVID | Onlia

Back to School + COVID: What to Consider & How to Stay Safe

We share some tips to help you (and your little one) navigate the new school year.

Alex Kelly
by Alex Kelly

After months of relatively quiet roads and empty crosswalks, parents head into September with more to worry about than ever when facing the back to school rush. COVID has changed the transportation landscape, with more people walking, biking and scooting than ever before. This, combined with back-to-school traffic, can create a dangerous September commute for many road users.

Road usage has spiked 37% since April*  a sign that motorists are getting back on the road. This steady rise in traffic means that roads are getting busier, just as children are starting to commute back to school again. It’s important to be mindful of precautions needed to keep children safe during these times.

In addition to the usual back to school safety tips, there are some pandemic-centric things to keep top of mind to ensure everyone stays safe. Read on to prepare yourself (and your kids) for this year’s back to school season. 


Share the road 

This is important, now more than ever. There are more vulnerable road users out, and adding children to the mix makes diligence that much more important. If you’ve been off the roads for the past few months, take a few practice spins around the neighbourhood. Interested to see where you can improve? Use the Onlia SenseTM mobile app to track your trips and learn how to be a safer driver.

Driving around the neighbourhood and through school zones is for more than just practice  you can take an audit of automated speed enforcement cameras that may have recently been installed. The city of Toronto installed these in Community Safety Zones near schools to protect vulnerable road users. Learn more about Toronto’s automated speed cameras.  

Be mindful of blind spots 

Motorists should be careful and look out for kids crossing in front, behind, or near their vehicles. Small children can easily be eclipsed by cars and large SUVs, making checking your blind spots imperative  and we mean all your blind spots!

Consider walking 

Instead of driving right into the Kiss ‘N Ride, consider parking your car on the street and walking your child to the school. It’ll create less congestion, and you can impart some words of wisdom while you walk in; it’s a great opportunity to teach your little one how to cross the road safely, and navigate their way through the labyrinth-like foot and car traffic. 

Getting accustomed to the new normal

There’s no question that this school year will look totally different than every other year. As we’re getting used to the new normal of waiting in line and donning masks before entering most public spaces, you’ll have to help your child understand the new rules and restrictions at school. There may be schedule changes to accommodate social distancing, as well as different points of entry and exit. Check with your child’s school to stay up to date on protocol, and brief your little one for the changes ahead. 

It can be scary sending your child back to school this year, but preparation is key. Educating your kids on road safety, and now COVID, will help prepare your kids for the school year that lays ahead.

*Based on data collected from Onlia Sense™


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