School transport FAQs for parents

I (or my partner) is a key worker and/or have a vulnerable child – how can I make sure my child continues to go to school?

The safest way to help stop the spread of Coronavirus is for a child to be cared for at home.

However, if you are unable to arrange for your child to be cared for at home and have not already made arrangements, please speak with your child’s school in the first instance to check that they would expect your child to be able to continue attending.

I am a key worker who has finished a period of family self-isolation without developing Coronavirus symptoms – how do I go about getting a continuing place for my child at school?

The safest way to help stop the spread of Coronavirus is for your child to remain being cared for at home.

However, if you are unable to arrange for your child to be cared for at home and would like them to take up a continuing place, please speak with your child’s school in the first instance to check that they would expect your child to be able to continue attending.

If your child usually uses Council-provided school transport, the school will liaise with us about their transport and we will contact you to confirm whether there are any changes to usual timings or pick up point.

If your child usually uses a commercial school transport service or another service that is not available due to the outbreak, you should arrange to take your child to school yourself.

If this is not possible, we will provide transport free of charge for children of key workers where it is safe to do so. To apply for free school transport during the current school closure period, please contact us on 01296 387439 or using our Contact Us form

My school has confirmed that I have a continuing place for my child – will my child’s bus transport be running?

The safest way to help stop the spread of Coronavirus is for a child to be cared for at home. If care at home is not possible, we would encourage as many parents and carers as possible to take their children to and from school, as this also helps to reduce contact and stop the spread of the virus.

Where these options are not available and your child usually travels on a service provided by the Council, we will aim to keep those services running during the school closure period. We will run buses on the same routes and times, unless we inform you otherwise.

The latest information on bus timetables and transport is on our website.

My school has confirmed that I have a continuing place for my child – will my child’s usual commercially-run school bus transport be running?

Commercial private sector bus companies work independently of the Council, and will be taking their own difficult decisions on whether or not they are able to keep their buses running in light of the outbreak. It is likely that most routes will be unable to keep running because of the very low numbers of children travelling, as well as staffing problems.

Commercial operators will notify parents directly if any of their routes will stop running.

The safest way to help stop the spread of Coronavirus is for a child to be cared for at home. If care at home is not possible, we would encourage as many parents and carers as possible to take their children to and from school, as this also helps to reduce contact and stop the spread of the virus.

Where these options are not available, we will provide transport free of charge for children of key workers where it is safe to do so. To apply for free school transport during the current school closure period, please contact us using our Contact Us form or by phone on 01296 387439.

My child has SEND and their school has confirmed that they have a continuing place – will my child’s usual school transport be running?

Yes. However, the safest way to help stop the spread of coronavirus is for a child to be cared for at home. If care at home is not possible, we would encourage as many parents and carers as possible to take their children to and from school, as this also helps to reduce contact and stop the spread of the virus.

To support parents who can take their eligible SEND students to and from school, we will pay the normal mileage rate of 45p per mile for 4 ways each day (i.e. a round trip twice a day), during this period of disruption.

Where it is not possible for you to take your child to school, we will continue to provide transport for your child as usual.

If you would like to claim a mileage payment from the Council, please contact us using our Contact Us form. Otherwise your current home to school transport will continue as usual over the current school closure period

What are you doing to ensure that my child is safe on school transport?

We are following the latest advice provided by central government on coronavirus. This advice is on our website which we are keeping regularly updated.

We are working closely with our transport suppliers to ensure that they understand and adhere to the specific guidance for transport operators issued by the Department for Transport and Public Health England.

We are expecting that all our transport suppliers will take the preventative measures highlighted in the guidance. A priority measure is that transport suppliers must ensure that if any drivers/PAs (or a member of their household) develop coronavirus symptoms, they must not come to work and should self-isolate, in-line with the government guidance.

Our Contract Management Team monitors and reviews supplier compliance with all contract requirements

Are you ensuring that all school transport vehicles are cleaned?

We are ensuring that the Council follows the latest government guidance on coronavirus and that this is communicated to all of our transport suppliers.

Within this guidance there is a section on the arrangements that all transport operators should follow on cleaning arrangements.

We emphasise the importance of this guidance to transport providers, especially that in cases where a driver and/or PA needs to self-isolate, that the vehicles used by them must be thoroughly cleaned with disinfectant before further use and in accordance with the published guidance. It is imperative that all vehicles are clean, safe, and comfortable.

What continuity plans do you have for ensuring that transport services can continue in the event of supplier firms being unable to continue routes?

We have a network of 60 suppliers who are able to take on emergency transport work when required. However, we are not able to guarantee that every route will be covered if the supply of drivers drops too low.

Where we are not able to provide transport we will authorise parents and carers to claim a refund for transport expenses incurred by them in transporting their children themselves.

If replacement drivers are used (for example, where usual drivers are self-isolating) have they all been appropriately checked? Do you have assurances of this?

Any driver on a school transport or social care transport route must hold a valid council ID badge which indicates that they have an Enhanced DBS check and successfully completed mandatory training within the last three years. Where there are insufficient drivers to cover all routes, we will suspend transport, rather than use a non-accredited driver.

Am I entitled to a refund for paid-for travel due to the school closures?

Yes. All parents of children who have purchased paid-for transport will be provided with a refund for travel from Friday 20 March to the end of the summer term.

There is no need to apply for a refund. We will contact all parents as soon as we can to confirm the refund arrangements. We will pay this as quickly as we can, however please bear with us as the effect of the Coronavirus outbreak means that overall staff levels are reduced. We estimate that refund payments will be made before the end of the summer term.

You do not need to take any action on direct debit payments. We have already halted direct debit payments so we will not take any money from April. When transport resumes we will need to set up a new direct debit with your bank as Buckinghamshire Council. Where we have taken more direct debit payments than necessary to cover transport until 20 March 2020, we will refund the difference.

If schools which remain open need to change their hours (to allow for thorough cleaning, for instance) is there flexibility in the delivery of school transport?

Any flexibility for school transport will depend on our suppliers’ capacity and existing commitments. We hope that our suppliers will support us where possible with any timing changes, but are unable to enforce this as they may have other schools that they are serving, or operate set driver and PA availability hours.

Schools will notify the Council of any change in hours and transport requirements and will then work with suppliers to try and where ever possible to accommodate changes.