COVID-19 information for school transport

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/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 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.

Face coverings

Public Health England recommends that from the start of the autumn term children aged 11 and over wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated school transport. However, we recommend that anyone using school transport wears a face-covering where possible.

For children under 11, we will encourage them to wear a face-covering where they are able to and can do so safely.

A face covering is not required by anyone identified as having an exemption from their use on public transport.

Pupils on dedicated school contracts should not be refused travel if they fail to present with a face covering.

You are encouraged to provide drivers with a supply of disposable face coverings for such events and to report the details of the incident to TSG using the MAX23 Incident Report Form.

Passengers who do not need to wear a face-covering if they have a legitimate reason not to includes (but is not limited to):

  • young children under the age of 11
  • not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • a face covering will cause the passenger severe distress
  • if they are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip-reading to communicate
  • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to themself or others
  • to avoid injury, or to escape risk of harm, and they do not have a face covering with them
  • in order to take medication
  • if a police officer or other official requests they remove their face covering

PPE

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.

Autumn term

For all transport, no face to face seating should be used and operators should ensure that their vehicles are cleaned at the end of each day.

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 as close to the normal start and end of the school day as possible because children in different bubbles will need to travel together. Schools and colleges are aware of this and advised that they may need to provide a safe place for children to wait for their transport. 
  • There are not enough vehicles available to transport pupils only within their school bubbles. 
  • We expect all children wear a face covering on dedicated school transport if they are able to use them appropriately.
  • 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.
  • Where a vehicle is used to provide transport for more than one school contract, please instruct drivers and passenger assistants to clean key areas and touchpoints regularly to remove germs. Ideally, all vehicles should be cleaned after each journey.
  • 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.
  • Where appropriate, operators should keep windows open to increase ventilation, or use air conditioning.
  • Drivers or passenger assistants should not work if they meet any of the following criteria:
  • They have been advised by the NHS test and trace service to self-isolate

This information also applies to special 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 principals above should apply to these journeys.

Public bus services which carry both school children and members of the public

We are liaising with these operators to establish potential passenger demand. Where capacity allows we will still issue passes for students to use on these routes and will expect them to observe the usual social distancing requirements for public transport.

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. Operators can deny access to their public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to wear one or leave a service if they are not wearing a face covering.

Where there is a requirement for drivers to help passengers onto and from the vehicle or to secure an individual travelling in their wheelchair, the driver must use appropriate PPE including a face covering.

In addition, drivers should be instructed to ventilate the vehicle and to clean key areas and touchpoints regularly with sanitising wipes or disinfectant spray to remove germs. Operators should also make arrangements for frequent deep cleaning of vehicles. 

Adult Social Care transport

Day services are now starting to re-open for a limited number of clients. 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 themselves
  • or, have been requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace

If the symptomatic person tests positive, our local health protection team will work with the family, school, council and you to identify people who have been in close contact with that person and ask them to go home and self-isolate for the advised time period.

We expect drivers and passenger assistants to book a test if they display COVID-19 symptoms. We also expect staff to self-isolate as advised.

If this means that transport cannot be provided to any pupils, then we will try to find alternative vehicles. In the worst-case scenario, parents and carers may need to transport their children to school until normal arrangements can resume.

Transport providers that are in contact with someone with symptoms will not need to self-isolate unless their own symptoms develop or are requested to do so by NHS Track and Trace. 

If a person tests positive, the health protection team will work quickly with the family, school, council and transport provider to identify those who have been in close contact and ask them to isolate.

You can find out more about close contact and self-isolating on the NHS website.