Information for providers
We have a duty to ensure that appropriate transport is provided for school children.
We encourage all children to walk or cycle to school or college as this will help to reduce the number of interactions between children as far as possible. Where this is not possible, driving a child to school or college or using public transport will be an option for parents.
You should undertake and review your own risk assessments and identify appropriate infection prevention control measures for passengers and employees. You should share this information on your website as well as appropriate social media.
Parents and carers should help their child to maintain social distancing whilst queuing at bus stops, and ensure children understand how to use transport safely. Children themselves are responsible for acting upon this, where they are able to.
Schools and colleges should put in place appropriate queuing or other arrangements needed for picking up and dropping off children at school or college.
Government instruction is that secondary school aged pupils must wear a face covering on all home to school transport unless they have a valid exemption. We are requesting that this protocol is also followed by primary aged pupils where possible.
You are encouraged to provide drivers with a supply of disposable face coverings in the event that a pupil fails to present with a face covering. You should also report the details of the incident to TSG using the Max Respect Incident Reporting Form.
Operators are expected to follow Government guidance on the use of PPE.
Drivers and passenger assistants will not normally be required to wear PPE on dedicated school transport, even if they are not able to maintain distance from the children. This is because children with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) must not board dedicated school transport. They should stay at home and get tested.
Where the care of a child on dedicated school transport ordinarily requires the use of PPE, this should continue as usual.
You do not need hand sanitiser on the vehicle for pupils to use but you will need to provide alcohol hand rub or sanitiser and other PPE for your drivers and passenger assistants as appropriate.
Children should wash their hands thoroughly before and after using transport. Children, drivers and passenger assistants should clean their hands before boarding transport and after arrival at their destination.
You should also follow the cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance and refer to the ‘Keeping public and private areas and modes of transport clean’ section of the transport operator guidance for information on carrying out cleaning procedures and adjusting ventilation on vehicles.
From 8 March 2021, schools and colleges will be open for all children and all home to school transport will be operational from this date.
Dedicated school transport – buses, coaches, taxis and minibuses
Social distancing guidance which is in place for public transport will not apply to school transport as it's not being used by the public. Therefore school vehicles will be filled to their normal capacity and the following will apply:
- Transport will be provided at the normal start and end of the school day.
- Requests for change to services should only be actioned if the instruction has been made or confirmed by Transport Services Group (TSG).
- Children are expected to sit in their respective school bubbles on the vehicle and signage should be displayed in the vehicle to help with this arrangement and to maintain social distancing where practicable.
- All children are expected to wear a face covering throughout the journey on dedicated school transport if they are not exempt and are able to use them properly. The Government has made this mandatory for secondary aged pupils.
- Drivers must focus on driving vehicles safely, so are not responsible for overseeing whether children are following advice and guidance in relation to infection control. However, incidents of non-compliance should be reported through the Max Respect Incident Reporting Process.
- Drivers should ensure they maximise ventilation within the vehicle by opening windows and ceiling vents where possible.
- Operators must maintain a high standard of cleanliness on their vehicles which should include regular deep cleaning and frequent wiping down of main touch points.
- Operators may also have other infection prevention control measures in place and you are advised to review and revise these as necessary together with all risk assessments relating to the safe carriage of passengers during the COVID pandemic.
- If a child needs help from parents getting into a vehicle, we recommend parents limit the time they spend in the vehicle, wear a face covering and also wash their hands thoroughly before and after.
- Children must not consume food or drink on vehicles.
- Drivers or passenger assistants should not work if they meet any of the following criteria:
- They are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms
- They are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms or sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms
- They have been advised by the NHS test and trace service to self-isolate
This information also applies to SEND school transport and children's social care transport.
Public bus services carrying school children on certain journeys
These services will be treated in the same way as dedicated school transport and therefore the principles above should apply to these journeys.
Public bus services which carry both school children and members of the public
Where there is likely to be too many students and other passengers on a route to maintain appropriate social distancing, we will look at this on a case by case basis.
On services where there are fare-paying adults travelling, all passengers should wear a face covering throughout the journey (unless exempt). Operators can deny access to their public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to wear one.
Where there is a requirement for drivers to physically help passengers on and off the vehicle or to secure individuals travelling in a wheelchair, the driver must use appropriate PPE including a face covering.
Drivers should ensure they maximise ventilation within the vehicle by opening windows and ceiling vents where possible.
Operators must maintain a high standard of cleanliness on their vehicles which should include regular deep cleaning and frequent wiping down of main touch points.
Adult Social Care transport
If you receive any calls from clients or their families about re-starting their transport, please tell them you cannot do so until we have authorised it, then notify TSG that contact has been made.
Close contact and self-isolating
If you have been in contact with someone that has developed symptoms and travelled on school transport, you do not need to go home to self-isolate unless:
- you develop symptoms
- or, have been requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace