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COVID-19 guidance for school transport operators and schools

There will be some alterations to home to school transport due to the national changes of COVID regulations.  This will include the withdrawal of additional buses and taxis which were put on temporarily to help with social distancing.

Services must continue in a COVID safe way to:

  • protect the most vulnerable in our community
  • protect members of the public travelling on bus services carrying school pupils
  • adhere to government advice recommending the continued wearing of face coverings on public transport

Read the government's coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators, which is designed to keep passengers and transport staff.

You can also read the dedicated transport to schools and colleges COVID-19 operational guidance, which is specifically for educational transport.

Please share this guidance with transport staff and families to ensure they are fully aware.

General advice for operators

Drivers and passenger assistants must not report for work, if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 or they are currently self-isolating due to a positive test in the last 10 days.

Drivers and passenger assistants can continue to work even if they have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, as long as 14 days have passed since they have had 2 COVID-19 vaccines given by the NHS, have no symptoms, and take a PCR test as soon as possible.

Drivers and passenger assistants must book a PCR test if they display COVID-19 symptoms.

Transport company expectations

All routes will operate from September 2021 as per timetable instructions. There will be no staggered arrival or departure arrangements unless directed by our officers.

Pupils who do not have a free bus pass and pay a fare on dedicated school bus services, will continue to pay a £1 standard charge and no change will be given, to reduce the need to handle change.

Fares charged on services that operate as part of the local bus network and those that are provided commercially, are set by the transport company rather than us. These fares are likely to be more expensive.

Bus, coach and taxi operators must continue to maintain enhanced vehicle cleaning on vehicles, with continued focus on frequently touched surfaces.

Ensure vehicles are well ventilated, by continuing to open windows and skylights. Even during colder weather, we strongly advise this to still happen.

All operators are advised to review the risk assessment previously carried out to ensure it is up-to-date and staff are made aware of what is expected of them.

Drivers and passenger assistants should continue with good hygiene measures including frequent and thorough hand cleaning – the 'catch it, bin it, kill it' approach.

Bus and coach operators are recommended to continue with providing hand sanitiser at the entrance of the bus if safe to do so. Taxis are advised to carry small containers of hand sanitiser.

Drivers and passenger assistants are not required to wear a face covering under the revised measures, but we strongly encourage them to continue to wear them, in line with government advice about public transport, although this is dependent on their company risk assessments.

Drivers must not refuse entry to any pupil who is not wearing a face covering.

Drivers and passenger assistants are not required to wear PPE. However, we strongly advise that where this has been previously used, it should continue. For example, on contracts transporting special educational needs pupils who require close care or support.

Drivers should report any behaviour concerns to the school or to their manager so that appropriate action can be taken.

Pupil expectations

Children and young people must not board school transport if they, have symptoms of COVID-19 or they have tested positive for COVID-19. Read the latest guidance on when to self-isolate and what to do.

Pupils over the age of 11 travelling on school bus services, are encouraged to continue to wear a face covering when boarding, during the journey and when they get off the vehicle. This is in line with the advice from government for public transport and crowded spaces.

Pupils are being encouraged to wash their hands before the journey and as soon as possible afterwards, when they get into school or home.

Pupils should continue with good hygiene measures including frequent and thorough hand cleaning – the 'catch it, bin it, kill it' approach.

Pupils are being encouraged to have their own sanitiser as well as some tissues in case they need to cough or sneeze.

Pupils are being encouraged to sit in year groups on school buses, to minimise different year groups from unnecessary mixing.

Where possible, pupils are encouraged to sit in the same seat each day.

Pupils are encouraged to sit facing forwards and not turn around to talk to their friends.

Where possible, pupils are encouraged to not shout, talk loudly or sing, as this may help spread the virus.

Where possible, pupils should avoid touching anything other than their own possessions.

Children developing symptoms at school

If a child or young person develops symptoms whilst at school or their place of education, they will be sent home.

They must not travel on home to school transport. The school or setting should contact the parent or carer who should make arrangements for the journey home and no other children should travel on the transport at the same time as the child with symptoms.

For special needs children and young people, and in exceptional circumstances, where it is not possible for the parent or carer to make arrangements for the child or young person’s journey home, transport may be considered following a risk based assessment between us, school and operator.

If a SEND child or young person tests positive whilst at school or their place of education after being transported via transport earlier in the day, the situation will be assessed on a case by case basis in consultation with the school or setting and NHS Test and Trace with regard to who is required to self-isolate and who is determined to be a close contact, as this is dependent on many variables.

Read the government's latest COVID-19 advice and the latest school transport advice for parents.