Coronavirus (Covid-19)

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All pupils, in all year groups, will return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term 2020. Therefore, dedicated school transport (that is transport that only caters for school children), including buses and taxis, for both mainstream and SEND pupils will need to return to full passenger capacity from September 2020.

Our approach to school transport from September 2020 has been guided by the principles underpinning the system of controls and guidance set out by the UK Government. 

We would appreciate the support of parents and carers of pupils travelling on home to school transport services to communicate the safety rules for travelling on school transport services outlined below to their children.

Cleaning and hygiene measures

  • Pupils should be encouraged to wash hands or use sanitiser prior to boarding and on disembarking from the vehicle. Operators will be asked to provide hand sanitiser where they can.
  • The ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach is very important. Pupils are encouraged to carry tissues on home to school transport. These will need to be disposed of in a covered bin.
  • Transport operators will be following Government guidance on vehicle cleaning by cleaning regularly-touched objects and surfaces (like door handles, handrails and ticket machines) more often than usual.
  • Operators should be ensuring the vehicle is well ventilated.

The journey

  • All pupils must have a valid bus pass to travel on dedicated school transport.
  • Government guidance has confirmed that social distancing on dedicated school and college transport vehicles will not be mandatory from September (it remains a requirement on the public transport network). However, where possible distancing should be maintained.
  • We expect pupils to be socially distanced whilst queuing, boarding and alighting vehicles where possible.
  • Where possible how pupils are grouped together on transport should reflect the bubbles or year groups that are adopted within their school. Pupils are therefore asked to sit with peers from their own school and their own school year group.
  • Pupils must use the same seat/row of seats each dayThis will facilitate the test and trace process.
  • Whilst travelling, pupils should always stay seated, avoid physical contact, face forwards and away from others, and not shout or raise their voices.
  • We do not expect drivers to police pupil behaviour. Their role is to focus on driving the vehicle safely. Where pupils do not behave in accordance with transport guidance and/or generate an unacceptable safety risk to staff or others, they may be refused travel.

Face coverings

  • Face coverings for pupils over the age of 11 are recommended whilst on dedicated school transport (and mandatory for pupils travelling on public transport).
  • It is recognised that face coverings may not be appropriate for some children or those with SEND.
  • Pupils should be made aware of how to wear a face covering and instructed not to touch the front of their face covering during use or when removing them. They must wash their hands immediately on arrival (as is the case for all pupils), dispose of temporary face coverings in a covered bin or place reusable face coverings in a plastic bag they can take home with them, and then wash their hands again before heading to their classroom.
  • Those not wearing face coverings should not be challenged around this; as children may have health conditions which are not visible to others. Schools may want to consider providing these pupils with an exemption letter.

Children with SEND and SEND Transport services

  • Special schools tend to be smaller, meaning all the children in a school might be in the same bubble, and transport typically uses smaller vehicles. Both these things will help to minimise the number of contacts children with SEND have on school transport.
  • We recognise that transporting children and young people with SEND may require close contact. Where this is the case, other measures in the system of controls should be put in place to reduce risk. If this is provided by staff independent of the school and they are within two metres of the child a surgical face mask (not fluid repellent) should be worn to protect the pupil.
  • Some children and young people with SEND will not be able to use a face covering properly and should not be expected to do so as this may increase the risk of transmission. Some children may be distressed by wearing a face covering, or by others wearing them. Others may become distressed if they and other people do not wear them.
  • If staff need to fasten a pupil’s seat belt/harness, this should be done with minimal physical contact and avoiding face to face contact where possible. If this is provided by staff independent of the school and they are within two metres of the child a surgical face mask (not fluid repellent) should be worn to protect the pupil.
  • Any unnecessary moving and handling or close sustained contact with the pupil will be avoided
  • Transport operators will be following Government guidance on vehicle cleaning by cleaning regularly-touched objects and surfaces (like door handles, handrails and ticket machines) more often than usual.

Arrangements on vehicles and response to any infection

  • Children with symptoms or who have household members with symptoms should not board the bus. They should book a test. If the child is tested positive they should inform the school immediately and inform them of the bus and seat they use to travel.
  • Passenger records will be maintained and made available for the purpose of the NHS test and trace service.
  • Every effort will be made to identify seats used by individual pupils on transport to help identify transmission risk and isolation requirements if symptoms arise. It is important that pupils keep to consistently the same seat on a bus on each journey, and make a note of the seat number where one is available. Parents and the school will need to know this information for the school’s records.  However, this may not be possible on all journeys and should a symptom arise on a vehicle without seating labels and where it is not possible to identify a group of pupils in registered seats, isolation of all pupils travelling on that vehicle will be required.
  • Local health protection teams will identify people who have been in close contact with a person who tests positive for coronavirus and tell them what they need to do. Should there be a positive case of COVID-19 on a bus, only children who sit within two metres of the case need to self-isolate.
  • Should a positive case be linked to a bus, parents need to be prepared to collect their children if informed within the school day they need to self isolate.
  • Drivers, passenger assistants and families, on behalf of children will need to be ready and willing to:
    • provide details of anyone they have been in close contact with if they test positive for coronavirus or if asked by NHS Test and Trace
    • self-isolate if they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus, or if anyone in their household develops symptoms of coronavirus.

Further information