Current guidance by Suffolk County Council
Updated request from Cambridgeshire Council
We aim to ensure all parents, passengers and staff remain safe and have an understanding of what is required to be safe whilst in transport.
URGENT UPDATE FROM CAMBRIDGESHIRE
In the event that a school needs to contact the Social Education Transport Team (SETT) out of office hours, to advise them that one or more children need to self-isolate and that, as a consequence transport arrangements need to be changed or cancelled temporarily, please email details of the children concerned to SETT, once you have contacted the children’s parents.
SETT will contact the operators (schools do not need to do this) to advise them of the changes. If a child is brought to school by one of our operators who should not be in school, as they need to self-isolate, SETT will arrange with you to take the pupil back home.
As SETT may not be able to pass this information on to Transport Providers in time for the morning runs, please inform your staff that parents may tell them that the school have called and asked for their child not to travel to school. This is a preventative measure and your staff will only need to go for a Covid 19 test if told to do so via Track & Trace or they have Covid 19 symptoms. If a parent sends their child to school and school are unable to accept them, please inform SETT and they will arrange for a return back home and negotiate any additional costs with you.
We are also being asked by operators why school staff are not wearing face coverings, please see response below from our Senior Management:
Government guidance says that school staff are not required to wear masks when working with children. When bringing pupils to the bus there will be no more than 15 minutes contact with the driver or Passenger Assistant. The drivers and escorts are spending more than 15 minutes with pupils in an enclosed space and that is why they have to wear masks.
Thank you for your continued support and please stay alert for new updates and guidance from SETT in accordance with changes required to meet Government and Local updates.
Suffolk County Council
Dedicated School Transport (not public service)
Most of the children and young people travel to school on a dedicated closed contract route. They will travel to school or college on a bus, minibus or taxi service that carries pupils only. For public services which only carry school children on certain journeys we consider these services to be dedicated school transport routes and therefore the same principals will apply to these routes as well as dedicated closed contract routes. On dedicated routes social distancing doesn’t apply. Face coverings are strongly recommended but are not mandatory. Exemptions apply.
We will ask pupils of one school to sit in their year groups where they can. If this isn’t practical, we will ask pupils to load from the back first, and to unload from the front first, row by row.
We will ask pupils on the lower deck to get off first, then those on the upper deck.
In instances where school transport is shared by pupils attending different schools, we ask that the vehicles are zoned in areas for each school, and where possible for pupils to sit with their school year groups.
For transport serving special educational schools, the pupils should fill the rear seats of the vehicle first, if possible. Those at the front of the vehicle should get off first.
Shared Transport Routes (Public Service)
A shared transport route is one where most passengers are pupils going to school or college, and there are also a few members of the public travelling on the vehicle.
We have worked closely to identify these routes that are shared and to work with operators to make sure that there is enough space on these public transport routes for pupils to be grouped apart from members of the public who are required to meet social distancing measures. Where general members of the public are on the same route, there must be a section zoned for the general public to use and allow a social distance of 2m. This zoned section will need to be clearly marked to identify the area. Pupils must maintain social distancing of 2 metres, where possible, from individual members of the public or from any zoned areas of the bus. The pupils can sit with members of their family or with others from their year group or bubble and social distancing does not need to be observed in their area.
If the vehicle is shared with pupils from another school, pupils should sit with others from their own family or school and leave space between themselves and children and young people from the other school where they can. Again, different school or college areas should be clearly marked where this is possible.
Face coverings are mandatory. However, exemptions apply.
Public Transport Routes
By public transport, we mean routes which are used mainly by the general public, but where a few eligible pupils or college students travel on them.
Pupils must maintain social distancing of 2 metres, where possible, from individual members of the public.
Where capacity allows, pupils will use these routes and will be expected to observe the UK government guidance for travelling on public transport, however where pupils are attending the same school they can of course sit together which helps with the overall capacity available.
Summary of Travel Arrangements
- Where a bus pass is issued the pupil will only show the driver the pass, not pass it to them at all. If someone has forgotten their bus pass, please allow them to travel but the driver will need to take the pupils name and it will need to be reported to the school and SCC as soon and as safe to do so. This is very important for test and trace reasons.
- You should clean the vehicle at the end of every day as a minimum– normal disinfectants and cleaning products are ok for this but also wipe down the vehicle in between any double runs, i.e. one school then another. If you do a double-run, then please can you wipe down the particularly high touch point areas before getting the next load of pupils – e.g. the grab rail at the front of the vehicle.
- On public routes, even if dedicated, you are able to accept fare paying pupils if going to the same school or college as those eligible pupils on board.
- Pupils have been asked to get off the vehicle starting from the front, going row by row; also, pupils on the lower deck should get off first then those on the upper deck.
- For pupils travelling to special educational schools, we ask that you fill the rear seats of the vehicle first, if possible. Those at the front of the vehicle should get off first.
- Drivers are not expected to enforce arrangements such as seating plans, queues or the wearing of face coverings – their role is to focus on driving the vehicle safely. However, if there are any issues, drivers should report it to us so that we can deal with the pupil appropriately, in liaison with the family and school.
Pupils are recommended to wear face coverings on dedicated routes; on shared or public routes they are mandatory. The use of face coverings does not apply if:
- Pupils are unable to wear a face covering for health, age, equality or other reasons
- Pupils have Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) and are unable to wear a face covering safely due to their special need.
Please see the guidance on who is exempt from wearing a face covering on public transport. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#exemptions-face-coverings.
We do not expect drivers to manage pupil behaviour. Their role is to focus on driving the vehicle safely.
Drivers are also exempt from wearing a face covering, except on routes serving special educational schools where drivers and passengers assistants will be required to wear face coverings. Drivers and passenger assistants to special educational schools are required to wear face masks.
- Zoned areas on public routes between public and pupils must be clearly marked
- Zoned areas for each school on board vehicle, both dedicated and public, must be clearly marked
- Face to face seating should be avoided, where possible
- You should keep windows open, where possible
- We will promote good hand and respiratory hygiene – we will ask parents to provide children with hand sanitiser for use before and after their journey and ask schools to encourage pupils to have washed their hands before they get on the vehicle at the end of the day.
- We will ask parents to provide their children with tissues to ensure the very important ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach is supported. If tissues are used on board the vehicle, they will be asked to be disposed of in a close lidded bin either on the bus or at school. Please provide a close lidded bin if you can. Any waste will need to be disposed of in line with government guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings.