COVID-19 information for school transport

Information for parents and carers

The following advice about school transport is subject to change. 

From 8 March 2021, schools and colleges will open again to all children. Transport for schools and colleges will also start again in full on 8 March 2021.

School transport availability

Where possible, all children should walk or cycle to school or college. Where this is not possible, consider driving your child to school or college. This will help us to reduce the number of interactions between children.

If your child is entitled to free or subsidised transport, only use it if absolutely necessary.

If your child pays a fare to use public transport, only use it if absolutely necessary. Social distancing requirements will mean reduced capacity on public transport. Access may be restricted.

If you decide to arrange your own transport, we will not reimburse you.

You can check if your child is entitled to and apply for:

We will make transport arrangements as soon as possible. Short notice may mean a delay in us putting your transport in place.

If you already have an entitlement to school transport, it will run as normal from 8 March 2021. You do not need to reapply for transport or submit any online requests for this to be re-instated.

Paid for transport (post 16 transport and concessionary)

100% of contributions covering January to February half term are being refunded.

A 40% refund was agreed for the autumn term and spring term because of disruption to normal student timetables. This 40% discount will still apply after February half term. This discount will not apply to the summer term 2021. Further refunds will only be considered if there are further widespread interruptions to face to face learning.

You do not need to make an application to claim the money back. Payments are made as quickly as possible but we do ask for your patience at this busy time.

This refund does not apply to any parents and carers who have paid schools or educational establishments directly for transport.

You can enquire about the availability of any concessionary transport.

We reserve the right to withdraw a concessionary ticket if a child entitled to free transport needs the seat.

Entitled children using public transport

We continue to seek to ensure all children entitled to free or subsidised transport can get to school.

We've been awarded a small grant by central government to help fund additional dedicated school transport services. This is temporary the end of March 2021.

This will support entitled children who normally use public transport. Children who normally pay to use public transport may also be able to use these services for a fare.

However, there are not enough vehicles available to do this on every route. We are therefore focusing on the busiest routes.

Social distancing

Please support your child to maintain social distancing while queuing at bus stops.

Schools and colleges should have queuing arrangements in place for picking up and dropping off children.

If your child needs your help to get into a vehicle, we recommend that you:

  • limit the time you spend in the vehicle
  • wear a face covering
  • wash your hands thoroughly before and after

Social distancing is not required on dedicated school transport, however, social distancing should always be maximised within vehicles wherever possible. This is in line with Government guidance because:

  • the overall risk to children and young people from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low
  • they do not mix with the public on these journeys
  • dedicated school transport carries the same group regularly. These children may also be together in school
  • it allows for planning to put appropriate protective measures in place

There is no requirement for children to sit in their school bubble on dedicated school transport. However, where possible, children should try to sit within their bubbles and be socially distant. When leaving a vehicle, children will be asked to leave from the front to the back, one deck at a time.

We will provide transport as close to the typical start and end of the school day as possible. Schools and colleges are aware of this. 

We have advised that they may need to provide a safe place for children to wait for their transport. If your school provides transport for pupils, contact them to find out about their arrangements. 

Some schools do not operate their own transport. We will only provide transport for children that are entitled under our education transport policy.

Preventing the risk of infection

Transport drivers must focus on driving vehicles safely. They are not responsible for overseeing whether children follow the advice and guidance.

Parents and carers must ensure that their children understand how to use transport safely.

Children must not travel to school if they: 

  • are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms 
  • are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms
  • are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms
  • have been advised by the NHS test and trace service to self-isolate

If a child becomes unwell during a school day (including testing positive for COVID-19 in any test, such as a lateral flow test, conducted at school or college), parents and carers must arrange their collection from school or college. You cannot use dedicated school transport or public transport.

Children must wash their hands thoroughly before and after using transport.

We recommend that children carry tissues on transport to catch any coughs or sneezes. They must dispose of tissues safely in a covered bin after leaving the vehicle. They must wash their hands as soon as possible.

Children must not consume food or drink on dedicated school transport vehicles.

Face coverings

All travellers must wear a face covering on dedicated school transport if they can.

In accordance with advice from Public Health England, children and young people aged 11 and over MUST wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated transport to secondary school or college.

This does not apply to children and young people who are exempt from wearing a face covering on public transport.

Children under age 11 are encouraged to wear a face-covering where they can and can do so safely.

You can check transport providers' websites for specific rules on face coverings.

Schools and colleges have a process for pupils to remove face coverings. Pupil must:

  • wash their hands immediately upon arrival
  • dispose of temporary face coverings in a covered bin
  • place reusable face coverings in a plastic bag
  • wash their hands again

Suspected cases on school transport

Children, drivers and passenger assistants who have been in contact with someone who has developed symptoms whilst at school or on home to school transport do not need to go home to self-isolate unless:

  • they develop symptoms themselves (in which case, they should arrange a test) or
  • the symptomatic person subsequently tests positive and they were in contact within 48 hours of them first displaying symptoms or
  • they have been requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace or the local Health Protection Team

If you test positive, NHS Test and Trace or the local Health Protection team will contact your family, school and transport provider. 

We will identify everyone who has been in close contact with you. We will ask them to go home where applicable and self-isolate for the advised period.

Other members of their household will not need to self-isolate unless the person self-isolating develops symptoms.

Find out more about close contact and self-isolating on the NHS website.

If a driver or passenger assistant has Covid-19 symptoms or tests positive, we may not be able to provide transport. In this case, we will try to find alternative vehicles. Parents and carers may need to transport their children to school until we can resume normal arrangements.