COVID-19 information for school transport

Information for parents and carers

Important school transport information from November 2021. The following advice about school transport is subject to change.

COVID-19 Symptoms

Children must not travel to school if they: 

  • have been identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19
  • are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms 
  • are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms or a positive PCR or lateral flow test
  • 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.

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.

Preventing Infection

The following infection prevention control measures will apply on council funded dedicated school transport:

  • where possible, all children should walk or cycle to school or college. If your child is entitled to free or subsidised transport or pays a fare to use public transport, only use it if necessary.
  • it is expected and strongly recommended that any pupil aged 11 and over travelling to school or college on dedicated school transport wears a face covering, where they are able to. We recommend that those aged under 11 years also wear a face covering where they are able to do so.
  • individual transport operators may decide that passengers MUST wear a face covering on their services. It is recommended that parents/carers check directly with transport operators for any further rules.
  • pupils should continue to socially distance on transport and when queuing at bus stops wherever possible.
  • schools and colleges should continue to have queuing arrangements in place for picking up and dropping off children wherever possible.
  • children should wash their hands thoroughly before and after using transport. We recommend that children carry tissues on transport to catch any coughs or sneezes. They should dispose of tissues safely in a covered bin after leaving the vehicle. They should wash their hands as soon as possible.
  • children should not consume food or drink on dedicated school transport vehicles
  • 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
  • transport will still continue to be cleaned regularly on key touch points
  • transport operators will be encouraged to ensure vehicles are well ventilated when occupied by opening windows and ceiling vents

It is mandatory for everyone aged 11 and over to wear a face covering on public transport unless they are exempt from doing so.

Contacts of confirmed cases on school transport

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

  • they have been identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19
  • they develop symptoms themselves (in which case, they should arrange a PCR test and follow the transport arrangements outlined above) or;
  • they test positive following a lateral flow test or;
  • they have been requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace

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.COVID-19 Symptoms

Children must not travel to school if they: 

  • have been identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19
  • are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms 
  • are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms or a positive PCR or lateral flow test
  • 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. Dedicated school transport or public transport cannot be used.

If a driver or passenger assistant has COVID-19 symptoms; tests positive or has been identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19you may not be able to provide transport. In this situation, you should try to find alternative resources and if there are problems with this please contact the Transport Services Group.

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.

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 should provide alcohol hand rub or sanitiser and other PPE for your drivers and passenger assistants as appropriate.

Children, drivers and passenger assistants should clean their hands thoroughly before boarding transport and after arrival at their destination.

Dedicated school transport – buses, coaches, taxis and minibuses

 School vehicles will continue to 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)
  • 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 whilst socially distancing where possible. 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
  • all passengers are expected and strongly recommended to wear a face covering throughout the journey on dedicated school transport if they are not exempt and are able to use them properly.  It is acknowledged that operators are able to set their own conditions of carriage in relation to face coverings and these should be clearly publicised on the company's website
  • 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, major 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 and should put in place and maintain an appropriate cleaning schedule with a particular focus on frequently touched surfaces
  • 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:

This information also applies to SEND school transport and children's social care transport.

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

On services where there are fare-paying passengers  travelling, all passengers must  wear a face covering throughout the journey unless exempt.

Operators may decide to 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 where applicable.

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 and should put in place and maintain an appropriate cleaning schedule with a particular focus on frequently touched surfaces

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.

Contacts of confirmed cases on school transport

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

  • they have been identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19
  • they develop symptoms themselves (in which case, they should arrange a PCR test and follow the transport arrangements outlined above) or;
  • they test positive following a lateral flow test or;
  • they have been requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

Further details on the operational guidance of dedicated transport to schools and colleges can be found on the GOV.uk website.