Worcestershire school transport guidance autumn 2020

All pupils, in all year groups, will return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term 2020. Therefore, dedicated school transport (that is transport that does not cater for the general public), including buses and taxis, for both mainstream and SEND pupils will need to return to full passenger capacity from September 2020.

Worcestershire County Council’s approach to school transport from September 2020 has been guided by the principles underpinning the system of controls and guidance set out by the UK government. 

We would appreciate the support of parents and carers of pupils travelling on home to school transport services to communicate the safety rules for travelling on school transport services outlined below to their children.

Home to school transport - general advice and rules for travelling

To help keep your child and fellow students safe, your child should not travel if:

  • they are feeling unwell or experiencing any coronavirus symptoms
  • they have tested positive for coronavirus and are within the 10 day incubation period or sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms
  • they have been advised by the NHS test and trace service to self-isolate
  • they have returned from abroad and government guidance states they need to quarantine for 14 days

Cleaning and hygiene measures

  • pupils should be encouraged to wash hands/use sanitiser prior to boarding and on disembarking from the vehicle; operators will be asked to provide hand sanitiser where they can
  • the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach is very important; pupils are encouraged to carry tissues on home to school transport, the tissues will need to be disposed of in a covered bin
  • transport operators will be following government guidance on vehicle cleaning by cleaning regularly-touched objects and surfaces (like door handles, handrails and ticket machines) more often than usual
  • operators should be ensuring the vehicle is well ventilated

The journey

  • all pupils must have a valid bus pass to travel on the dedicated school transport
  • government guidance has confirmed that social distancing on dedicated school and college transport vehicles will not be mandatory from September (it remains a requirement on the public transport network), however, where possible distancing should be maintained
  • we expect pupils to be socially distanced whilst queuing, boarding and alighting vehicles where possible
  • where possible how pupils are grouped together on transport should reflect the bubbles or year groups that are adopted within school; pupils are therefore asked to follow the seating plans as indicated below which have been agreed with schools and will be marked on all coach transport
  • pupils must use the same seat/row of seats each day and remember or make a note of the seat/row number; this will facilitate the test and trace process
  • whilst travelling, pupils should always stay seated, avoid physical contact, face forwards and away from others, and not shout or raise their voices
  • we do not expect drivers to police pupil behaviour; their role is to focus on driving the vehicle safely; where pupils/passengers do not behave in accordance with transport guidance and/or generate an unacceptable safety risk to staff or other passengers, they will be refused transport by WCC without notice

Seating plan: image version

Seating plan

Seating plan: text version

  • reception: Tiger
  • year 1: Butterfly
  • year 2: Dolphin
  • year 3: Monkey
  • year 4: Kangaroo
  • year 5: Lion
  • year 6: Parrot
  • year 7: Alpaca
  • year 7 (High school): Grey
  • year 8: Red
  • year 9: Blue
  • year 10: Green
  • year 11: Orange
  • year 12: Purple
  • year 13: Yellow

Face coverings

  • face coverings for pupils over the age of 11 are mandatory whilst on school transport (and mandatory for pupils travelling on public transport)
  • it is recognised that face coverings may not be appropriate for some children or those with SEND
  • pupils should be made aware of how to wear a face covering and instructed not to touch the front of their face covering during use or when removing them; they must wash their hands immediately on arrival (as is the case for all pupils), dispose of temporary 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
  • those not wearing face coverings should not be challenged around this; as children may have health conditions which are not visible to others

Children with SEND and SEND transport services

  • special schools tend to be smaller, meaning all the children in a school might be in the same bubble, and transport typically uses smaller vehicles; both these things will help to minimise the number of contacts children with SEND have on school transport
  • we recognise that transporting children and young people with SEND may require close contact; where this is the case, other measures in the system of controls should be put in place to reduce risk such a PPE. For example, staff may want to wash or sanitise their hands more frequently
  • some children and young people with SEND will not be able to use a face covering properly and should not be expected to do so as this may increase the risk of transmission; some children may be distressed by wearing a face covering, or by others wearing them; others may become distressed if they and other people do not wear them
  • any unnecessary moving and handling or close sustained contact with the pupil/passenger will be avoided

Response to any infection

  • if your child develops symptoms, do not allow your child to board a bus and book a test; should the result be positive inform the school immediately and inform them of the bus they get and seat they travel in
  • local health protection teams will identify people who have been in close contact with a person who tests positive for coronavirus and tell them what they need to do; should there be a positive case of COVID-19 on a bus, only children who sit within 2 meters of the case need to self-isolate
  • passenger records will be maintained and made available for purpose of the NHS test and trace service;  parents need to remind their child to sit in the same seat, to know which seat their child sits in on the bus and follow local processes to ensure an up to date passenger list can be maintained;  if there is a positive case this will be used to identify those surrounding children who need to self isolate; we do not want a situation where we are self-isolating children for 14 days unnecessarily and this process prevents that
  • should a positive case be linked to a bus, parents need to be prepared to collect their children if told within the school day they need to self isolate
  • drivers, passenger assistants and families, on behalf of children will need to be ready and willing:
    • to provide details of anyone they have been in close contact with if they test positive for coronavirus or if asked by NHS Test and Trace
    • to self-isolate if they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus, or if anyone in their household develops symptoms of coronavirus

Further information

Further government guidance on safer travel for passengers can be found at What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (GOV.UK website, opens in a new window).