Home to School Transport Services
Guidance for Home to School Transport from
Updated September 2021
To keep everyone as safe as possible, we will rely on stakeholders’ full cooperation in following this guidance – this includes operators, staff, parents, pupils and schools. Only by all of us working together will we keep everyone safe as they can be. This offer of Covid-19 safe school transport is made by the local authority to parents/pupils, but if parents/pupils do not wish to accept the offer, they can make their own alternative arrangements for transport to and from school.
All sections of the guidance below are relevant to all stakeholders and should be read by everyone – the different sections are intended to better group the guidance and provide a focus for different stakeholders, and are as per:
- Government Safer Travel – Key Points
- General Covid-19 Guidance - Prevention
- SEND Transport
- Local Bus Services (Public Buses)
The guidance sets out how provided school transport is to resume and these plans will be updated as the Coronavirus (Covid-19) emergency develops and changes (locally and nationally), and as Government advice is updated or altered.
This guidance should be followed by all Council passenger transport contractors/operators, schools and parents/pupils.
Government Safer Travel – Key Points
For information, a quick reference to key Government travel guidance is shown below and these points are amplified further into this guidance document:
- Pupils should not travel if feeling unwell or if they have any Covid-19 symptoms
- Face coverings – are recommended and must be worn
- Providing the most on-bus ventilation possible, consistent with a comfortable journey
- Enhanced bus/taxi cleaning regimes, particularly for regular touch points
- Keeping any physical contact to the minimum
- Cashless system in operation
- Self Isolation
- Safety of staff, pupils and the public will be paramount
- And Government advice for operators is at this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-transport-guidance-for-operators
- Drivers, Passenger Assistants and Pupils should not travel on transport if they are feeling unwell, particularly if they have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and should book a PCR test.
- Any pupils becoming ill at school should be taken home by their parents (NB parents should have transport contingency arrangements in place to do this).
- Guidance on shielding and people/pupils who are high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) can be found at the Government web link below:
- Peoples Risk Assessments have been carried out for BWD staff whose characteristics fall within clinically extremely vulnerable.
Lateral Flow Testing
Drivers and passenger assistants lateral flow testing.
- Drivers and passenger assistants are required to Lateral Flow Test twice weekly and should book a Covid-19 test if their test is positive or if they display symptoms (as described above) and families should do likewise if their children display symptoms.
Contact and Self – Isolation
If pupils have any symptoms of Coronavirus Covid-19 they should self-isolate at home and arrange to have a PCR test to see if they have coronavirus.
Drivers and Passenger Assistants who have been in ‘contact’ with someone who has developed symptoms and tested positive whilst at school or on home to school transport:
- Drivers and Passenger Assistants who are double vaccinated will be required book at PCR test and to Lateral Flow test each morning prior to attending work.
- Drivers and Passenger Assistants who are not double vaccinated will have to isolate for 10 days.
- All pupils will return to school and designated contracted school transport bus/taxi networks will return to ‘normal’ within these Covid-19 safety guidelines.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) is understood to be easy to kill on surfaces - normal cleaning products will do this. Operators should ensure that all touch points on school transport vehicles have been cleaned to protect against Coronavirus (Covid-19) prior to and after every new journey – this includes door handles, keys, handrails, armrests, seat backs, seatbelts, driver controls, etc.
- On-board disposable cleaning fluids/cloths/disposal gloves and a suitable secure on-board bin for disposal of any cleaning items, tissues or PPE, for in-journey use, should be provided.
- Staff employed by operators should avoid mixing with each other where possible and that operators should support and recommend individual drivers use face coverings.
There will be no social distancing on designated contract (closed) school buses and taxis, which means that vehicles will operate at 100% capacity – it’s important to note that no members of the public travel on these buses and they are restricted to the same group of pupils each day.
Pupils should make use of space on the vehicles provided and maximise distance.
- Operators should provide good vehicle ventilation when carrying passengers (such as opening windows where practical) to help reduce the chance of potential airborne infection.
- Ventilation is of key important and should be maximised wherever possible.
- Windows should be opened to allow for air flow.
- Drivers and Passenger Assistants and passengers may wish to use hand sanitiser at intervals throughout the journey and should always do so after performing tasks such as helping a child into the vehicle or handling a child’s belongings.
- At the end of their shift, Drivers, Passenger Assistants and passengers should minimise possible contamination and wash their hands for 20 seconds before touching household things when arriving home.
- Pupils over 11 years are recommended to wear face coverings whilst travelling, they should not be refused transport if they (occasionally) have no face covering then a face cover should be provided by the driver if required. Wearing face coverings may not always be possible, particularly for SEND pupils or if exemptions apply. Where pupils who must wear face coverings do not, they should report any such instances to the school.
- Drivers are recommended to use face coverings/visors to protect themselves.
- Government (DfT) advice for operators should be adhered to and can be found at the following link:
- On Taxis and Private Hire vehicles, drivers and pupils over 11 years are recommended to wear face coverings and use sanitising hand gel both on entry and disembarkation. Whilst ideally we would like to restrict pupil numbers on taxis to two pupils in the rear seat, with the middle rear seat and front seat unoccupied, this may not be possible in many cases. In reality the infrastructure to provide this is unavailable and/or it is logistically difficult.
- Taxi operators should follow guidance issued by with the Borough Council’s Taxi Licensing Team.
- Pupils/passengers should follow the advice of the driver. For example, you may be asked to sit in the back left-hand seat if travelling alone.
All school designated school buses will be operating a cashless system to minimise risk to pupils travelling on designated school buses. Vouchers are available through the Council - APP. We are asking that parents fully support this scheme in order to minimise the risk to all travelling.
We also ask that face covering are worn as a recommendation.
We ask that the School Travel Guidance is adhered to at all times by pupils using designated school transport.
- Pupils should not travel if unwell or if they have been told to isolate.
- If any pupils become ill during the journey to the school, the school should be notified immediately – the school may then contact their parents to collect them from school.
- Boarding buses should be done one at a time - disembarking buses should also be undertaken one at a time, from the most forward seats first, with pupils staying apart.
- Pupils should sanitise their hands when boarding buses/taxis – they can use operator provided hand gel and/or they can carry their own, parents may wish to advise pupils to sanitise their hands regularly during the journey as well.
- On arrival at school, pupils must wash/sanitise their hands immediately for 20 seconds and dispose of disposable face coverings in a covered bin or place reusable face coverings in a plastic bag they can take home with them, and then wash their hands again before heading to their classroom.
- We would encourage pupils to carry tissues with them on the bus/taxi, to use to cover their mouth/face if they sneeze, cough or wish to blow their nose – used tissues should be disposed of safely and not shared.
As a general rule, not just when using transport, pupils and staff should maintain good hand hygiene, regularly washing hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser for 20 seconds. This is particularly important straight before and straight after journeys. As best as they can, everyone should also avoid direct hand contact with eyes, nose and mouth, and use tissues to catch coughs and sneezes (or at least to cough/sneeze into the crook of their elbow), disposing of tissues in a bin as soon as possible.
- At all times, everyone should maintain good hand hygiene (e.g. washing hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser, particularly straight before and straight after journeys). Avoid direct hand contact with eyes, nose and mouth, and use tissues to catch coughs and sneezes (or at least to cough/sneeze into the crook of their elbow) disposing of tissues in a bin as soon as possible (i.e. ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’).
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an easy virus to kill when it is on skin. This can be done with soap and running water or hand sanitiser prior to and after their journey to school.
- Where pupils/passengers present an unacceptable safety risk to other pupils/staff, they may be refused transport (e.g. for reasons including displaying illness, deliberate spitting, coughing and sneezing at others, ignoring verbal safety guidance).
If you live in the same/community as the school, active travel (walking/cycling) should be the first choice. “If you can, please consider whether your child can walk or cycle to school.
Nearly 75% of primary and half of secondary school children in the UK live within 2Km of their school.
The Council is introducing new walking and cycling routes to make these journeys safer” The second choice should be travel by car – only if none of these options are available to parents should pupils attempt to use public transport.
- For pupils not entitled to free school transport, parents will make appropriate arrangements to get their children to and from school. Many pupils walk or cycle to school themselves. Where parental cars are used instead, a ‘Park & Stride’ strategy can be used – this is a simple solution that allows pupils to walk for part of their journey and where parents safely park a little further away from school, typically within a 5 to 10 minutes walking distance. Parents will decide whether or not to escort their children to and from school on the ‘Stride’ element of the journey. ’Park & Stride' helps reduce entry risks at the school and eases access overall.
- Parents and pupils should avoid congregating at the school gates and keep these areas free for unhindered access and egress of the school site.
- Government (DfT) advice for passengers should be adhered to and can be found using the following link:
- Guidance from the DfE about school transport is contained within their publications at the following links:
- Schools should recommend face covering should be used on designated school transport.
- Schools should have a process for pupils to remove and safely disposing of face coverings when arriving at school.
Lateral Flow testing is Mandatory for all Passenger Assistants twice weekly.
- Drivers and Passenger Assistants will wear PPE appropriate to the risk assessment for their role, the pupils on board and the nature of the staff interaction with them.
- When applying or removing fluid resistant face masks or other PPE, it is important that the wearer’s hands are washed/cleansed for 20 seconds before and after each use.
- Training on Infection and Prevention for frontline staff is mandatory for all Passenger Assistants and In house Drivers along with Covid-19 training.
Pick Up Points
- At pick up points, where passenger assistants receive passengers from their parents/carers, hand sanitiser or gloves should be used by drivers and passenger assistants;
- An additional risk assessment should be carried out where circumstances change or where there are additional issues present. Parents will be contacted directly if they are affected by this.
- If the passenger assistant needs to fasten a passenger’s seat belt/harness, this should be done with minimal physical contact, wearing appropriate PPE and hand sanitising after each contact.
- If drivers or passenger assistants have to manoeuvre wheelchairs, they should clean the wheelchair handles and brake levers prior to pushing the wheelchair. Likewise, if installing car seats or booster seats, clean the hard surface areas (e.g. outer shell, buckles) before installing in the vehicle and clean them after use – for these tasks PPE should be worn, and this should include disposable gloves and fluid resistant face masks/face visors.
- Proper planning and the use of appropriate PPE will be needed for wheelchair users and those with disabilities where handling and sustained contact may be required for getting on and off vehicles, as in the ambulance procedure.
- Any unnecessary moving and handling or close sustained contact with the pupil will be avoided.
- For children over the age of 11, face coverings are recommended.
Local Bus Services (public buses)
- Whilst the general principles above will apply, the Government have provided specific guidance for the use of public transport and this should be adhered to. Details can be found within this link:
- Pupils travelling on public buses to school are recommended to wear face coverings whilst travelling.
The Borough Council greatly appreciates all the support and effort from school transport operators, schools and our other partners in continuing to provide transport services and we are always here to support you.
We ask parents, pupils, students, passengers, schools and all others involved in Borough Councils passenger transport network, to take on responsibility for following these safety guidelines and support others in doing so.
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