School transport and COVID-19

How we are adapting school transport to the current COVID-19 situation.

National guidance is changing as the situation evolves and we can all expect it to continue to do so. This guidance is based on national advice and local situations.

Travel in or out of local areas should be avoided and parents, carers and staff should look to reduce the number of journeys they make - but travelling to deliver and access education is still permitted.

Staff, children and their parents and carers are encouraged to walk or cycle when travelling to and from school where this is possible and to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow social distancing to be practised.

Children travelling to school by public bus (either buying their own ticket or given a pass by the council)

Parents should visit the bus operators’ websites to check the times and routes that will be available. In particular parents should note that:

  • journeys at school times may have changed to run slightly earlier or later
  • buses that usually divert to a school gate may no longer do so and children may need to walk from the nearest stop on the ‘standard’ route
  • a change of bus may now be necessary rather than there being a ‘through journey’.

Children who travel on County Council provided transport (coach, minibus or taxi)

Our suppliers have been asked to operate a full service until further notice. Due to possible staff shortages, some flexibility will no doubt be needed and appreciated.

All parents who do not accompany their children to school are advised to have a contingency plan agreed with their child in case transport is late or does not arrive. This is particularly important at the moment.

We have asked our transport operators to:

  • ask drivers and escorts to wear the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) appropriate to their role and we have outlined expectations and a guide to donning and doffing PPE safely
  • remind staff that the wearing of PPE is not just for their own safety but also for the safety of their vulnerable passengers
  • minimise changes in driver and escort teams to reduce risk of transmission
  • ask staff to keep vehicles well ventilated and do not use re-circulation air conditioning
  • ask staff to wash their hands before and after every shift
  • plan passenger collections to maximise social distancing
  • report any concerns to the council about social distancing at bus stops or collection points
  • think about how passengers are seated within vehicles to maximise social distancing
  • think about the order passengers board and alight vehicles to maximise social distancing
  • display Public Health posters in vehicles that emphasise the importance of washing hands and the ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ message
  • communicate consistent procedures to staff for standard and deep cleaning
  • identify higher risk areas, such as areas that are touched more regularly
  • supply standard cleaning products for regular cleaning and make sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for used cleaning products
  • clean regularly touched objects and surfaces (like door handles and handrails) more often than usual using standard cleaning products
  • encourage workers to wash hands before boarding vehicles
  • use wipes to clean fuel pumps before and after use
  • use signs and messages to build awareness of the good hand washing technique and other hygiene behaviours, for example, around coughing and sneezing.

Do children need to wear face coverings on transport?

Children and young people aged 11 and over must wear a face covering on public transport.

In a new Government directive, face coverings must also be worn by pupils in year 7 and above when travelling on dedicated school transport to secondary school or college. We have communicated this change to all schools. This does not apply to those who are exempt.

Important: drivers won’t refuse any child without a mask, but will be reporting each incident.

The School Transport Team are supporting schools in enforcing these rules where required and, where possible, dedicated school buses will hold a limited supply of spare masks.

Further information

See our Schools and education page for the latest information around arrangements for the new term in 2021.

For information about eligibility for transport to school, see our free school transport pages.

Last updated:
11 January 2021
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