COVID-19 information for school transport

Information for parents and carers

The following advice about school transport is subject to change. 

From 5th January 2021, schools and colleges will only be open for vulnerable children and the children of critical key workers.
 
If your child will be attending education and they are normally entitled to education transport then you must let us know if they still need to use this transport. Transport should only be used if absolutely necessary to reduce interactions between pupils.
 
To inform us that your child will still be using their usual education transport please complete the request school transport form by Wednesday 13 January 2021.
 
If at any time during the current national lockdown your child starts attending education again and they need their usual education transport please complete the above form, this may take a few days to arrange.

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 to in us putting your transport back in place.

Paid for transport (post 16 transport and concessionary)

100% of contributions covering January to February half term will be 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 may be considered once it is understood when education settings will re-open for 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 until February half term 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 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 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.

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.

Spring term

From 5 January 2021, schools and colleges will only be open for vulnerable children and the children of critical key workers.

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

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

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.