Walking School Bus

Much like the big yellow school bus, a Walking School Bus is a safe form of transportation to school.  Students are chaperoned by an adult Leader and walk along a predesignated route to school, as people join them along the way!

Walk with us

Our trained leaders make sure your children get to school safely and on time

Levels of active travel to school have fallen significantly among Canadian children in recent years, contributing to lower physical activity, poorer air equality and increased traffic dangers around schools.


The benefits of a Walking School Bus program are numerous and include:

  • Increased physical activity for the children
  • Enhanced parental and community engagement
  • Improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduced traffic congestion in school zones
  • Increased awareness/connection to geographic spaces
  • Increased traffic safety awareness amongst students

Visit OSTA’s website to register

COVID-19 Specific Procedures for Walking School Bus:

Walking School Bus will look a little different this year but it will still be the same fun, active and healthy walk to school each day!

The Walking School Bus Leaders will be wearing masks, although students are not required to wear one. The Leaders will also have colourful social distancing ropes that the younger children can hold onto if they are having a hard time keeping up with the bus or keeping a 6 foot distance between themselves and other students on the bus. Leaders have been advised to self screen daily and take their temperature, and to book off their shift if they have a fever or are felling unwell, at which time we will send a back-up in their place.

We ask that parents ensure the following prior to putting their child on the WSB each day:

  • Check that your child does not have a fever or is showing any signs of being sick.  If so, they should not join the WSB that day.
  • Ensure your child has not been in close contact with anyone that has COVID19 or is experiencing symptoms of it.
  • Make sure that your child’s hands are thoroughly washed prior to joining the bus.
  • Please explain to your child that they need to maintain social distance from the Leader and students from other families that are walking with the bus.
  • As well, please ensure that you review all the regular “Rules of the Bus” and “Dress for the Weather” here (link).

Please note:  In order to support social distancing and help do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the community, the office of the Ottawa Safety Council will be closed to the public until further notice. Staff will continue to be available to answer questions and support all programs during regular business hours.

Schools with a Walking School Bus Program

Does my school have a Walking School Bus Program?

See the map to the left to see which schools have a Walking School Bus Program at the moment.

For more information, including route maps, times and registration, please visit OSTA’s website for more information.

Walking School Bus Program
Hybrid Walking School Bus Program

How do I register my child for the Walking School Bus Program?

Registration is done either online or through the school.  Please talk to your school faculty to register in person or visit the OSTA website to register online. https://form.jotform.ca/60464580844258

I think a Walking School Bus Program would be great for my school – how do we get one?

OSTA works closely with schools to determine the need for and potential interest of a Walking School Bus program, as well as suggested routes.  If you are interested in having a Walking School Bus Program for your school it is best to start by discussing the program with your Principal and/or Parent Council, who can then contact OSTA.  For more information about the Walking School Bus program please visit OSTA’s website: www.ottawaschoolbus.ca/helpful-resources/wsb-program-2/

What is involved in becoming a Walking School Bus Leader?

All of our Walking School Bus Leaders are required to provide us with a clean Police Record Check for Vulnerable Sectors and three character references. All Walking School Bus Leaders undergo a thorough Screening Interview to determine their suitability for the position as well.

The Walking School Bus Leaders undergo in-depth classroom training that covers safe walking practices, important safety precautions, behavior guidance techniques for working with children and emergency protocol and procedures. As well, all Walking School Bus Leaders must take Provincially-mandated training such as Bill 168- Violence and Harassment in the Workplace & Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities. Finally, new Walking School Bus Leaders walk the route backward every morning prior to traveling it with their student walkers – to determine any hazards that may need to be addressed.

The Program Manager regularly tags along with the Walking School Buses for performance evaluation reasons.

If you are interested in becoming a Walking School Bus Leader please contact our human resource coordinator at hr@ottawasafetycouncil.ca with your resume.

Junior Leader Program

In the Spring of 2016, the Ottawa Safety Council (OSC) launched a program to complement the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority’s (OSTA’s) Walking School Bus (WSB) program by adding responsible, trained and equipped Grade 5 and 6 students as Junior Leaders to work under the supervision of the adult WSB Leader and it has been an outstanding success!

Having Junior Leaders walk with the WSB daily creates a peer-to-peer learning model which increases the level of safety for the children on the WSB and encourages the use of active, safe transportation.  As well, it increases the level of safety awareness and fosters leadership skills in older elementary school students in Grades 5 and 6.

Being a Junior Leader is also a lot of FUN!  Junior Leaders are “Safe Walking Ambassadors” in their schools and are encouraged to share safety tips and the benefits of active transportation, as well as track the number of steps the Walking School Bus takes throughout the year.  They are rewarded for their help throughout the year with hot chocolate days, movie recesses and a special field trip at the end of the year in June.

Junior Leaders are invited to apply for the position yearly and must exhibit the following qualities:

  • Be mature, dependable and trustworthy
  • Have a positive attitude and be a positive role model for other students
  • Good time management skills
  • Have a willingness to take on responsibility
  • Be respectful of rules and authority
  • Be confident and personable
  • Have good grades and attendance, as well as good relationships with other students

“It is the perfect chance for the older kids to be good examples for the younger kids and help the Leaders.”

Walking School Bus Leader

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