The call follows on from the publication of the annual Hands Up Scotland Survey in June, which found that the pupils being driven to school was at their highest recorded level in 2019.
The charities also point to the fact that it will still be necessary to keep social distancing between adults at school gates, so people are urged to leave the car at home to avoid crowding.
Air pollution near schools is a particular cause of concern, especially for respiratory health.
The Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health, which represents medical professionals promoting children’s health, has been a leading voice in the call for children to return to school as soon as it is safe to do so.
Lee Craigie, Active Nation Commissioner, Scotland said
“We are all driven to protect the people we love. We are also hard wired to save ourselves time and effort. But driving our kids to schools is one of the most dangerous false economies we invent. By removing the simple daily pleasure of walking, cycling or wheeling to school, we miss the opportunity to instil in our kids patterns of everyday active behaviour that will improve and prolong their lives. Who doesn't want that for the people they love?"
Joseph Carter, Head of Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Scotland, said:
‘We welcome the call for more active travel on the commute to school in Scotland. In our recent survey we found 73% of people agree that schools in Scotland should have more power to reduce the number of cars outside its gates. Not only is active travel great for keeping our children fit and healthy, but the reducing car travel and idling near school grounds would greatly reduce children's exposure to pollution that could cause conditions like asthma.’