We understand that, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, you may have concerns about your child's use of school transport. The government expects all children and young people to attend school as evidence shows the overall risk to them is very low.
We are following government guidance on making home-to-school transport as safe as possible – you can read this guidance at GOV.UK: transport to school and other places of education.
If your child was eligible for school transport before the outbreak, the service will still be available although there may be some changes. You may choose not to use the service but you would have to make your own arrangements.
If you make your own arrangements, it is important you follow government guidelines and do not gather at the school gates or cause congestion on roads leading to the school.
What school transport operators are doing
By law, school transport operators must carry out detailed risk assessments. All risks related to the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) must be addressed. We have asked for copies of all risk assessments and details of the actions taken.
Vehicles will be cleaned at the end of every journey – especially areas such as door handles, back of seat coverings, handrails, bell pushes and seat belts.
Transport will continue to be provided by your usual bus or taxi operator. We will try to provide the usual Passenger Assistant, but we cannot guarantee this as they may be self-isolating.
Use of public transport
The government says public transport should be avoided if possible to help maintain safer social distancing for people who have to travel, including students. We are working closely with the bus operators to try to provide as much capacity as possible at school times.
Waiting for the bus
You should help your child in maintain social distancing from members of other households while at the bus stop. This means children may be spread-out more than usual. We've asked drivers to take extra care in making sure everyone is collected.
It is very important that you maintain social distancing while waiting for the school bus to return from school, and that you move away from the bus stop as soon as your child has left the bus.
Boarding the bus
Children should follow the instructions of the driver or school staff. Parents and carers should not board the bus to help with seat belts or coats. We will make sure additional time is taken at each stop so children can seat themselves safely without rushing.
Children's temperatures will not be taken when they board the bus as evidence shows that routine temperature tests are not a reliable method for identifying COVID-19.
On the bus
Where practical, we will work with schools to maintain the school 'bubbles' – that is, small groups of students who stay together all through the school day.
The government says social distancing is not needed on school transport because:
- the overall risk to children and young people from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low
- children do not mix with the general public on those journeys
- home to school transport often carries the same group of children and young people on a regular basis, and those children may also be together in school
- passengers and passenger numbers are more predictable than on public transport, which allows more safety planning to take place
All students in year 7 and above must wear a face covering when travelling on school transport, unless they are exempt. Primary school children do not need to wear a face covering.
As a parent or carer of a student in year 7 or above, you are responsible for making sure your child wears a face covering on school transport. You should give your child a sealable plastic bag in which to store their face covering when it is not being worn. If your child has a health condition that prevents them wearing a face covering, you should discuss this with their school.
It is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on or taking them off. For advice on different types of face covering, when they should be worn and how to wear them, go to GOV.UK: how to wear a face covering.
For more government guidance, go to GOV.UK: coronavirus (COVID-19) – education and childcare settings.
As at all times during the outbreak, children should wash their hands for 20 seconds before leaving home. If possible, they should sanitise their hands before boarding and after leaving school transport. They should also wash their hands thoroughly when they return home.
It's good practice for children not to touch their faces. If they need to cough or sneeze, they should do so into a tissue or their elbow.
Children with special needs or a disability
If your child has special education needs or a disability, our drivers and passenger assistants will visit you before arrangements start so they can understand the child's needs during transport. They will be able to answer any questions you may have.