FAQs - wider opening of schools from 1 June 2020
Should I take my own child to school rather than use school transport?
Yes, where this is possible. Government advice is that where possible, parents and carers are encouraged to take children to school by walking or cycling, or alternatively by private car, rather than using public transport. We understand that this won’t be possible for some people.
If you usually receive Council-provided school transport and still require this from 1 June 2020 you will be able to confirm this with your primary or special school, who are contacting all parents and carers to confirm likely pupil numbers.
The Council is working to resume all Council-provided school transport where required and ensure vehicles are thoroughly cleaned. Social distancing on school buses is extremely challenging and we are therefore encouraging all parents to follow government guidance and where possible to take their children to school by walking, cycling or private car.
Parents should receive information from their school on drop-off and pick-up arrangements at the school site, but if you are in any doubt please contact your school as soon as possible to check arrangements, as schools may operate staggered school start and end times.
It is important for parents/carers and children to practice social distancing wherever possible. This means taking the following precautions:
- keep a 2 metre distance from people outside of your own household
- avoid physical contact with others
- face away from other people when using transport
- keep the time spent near others as short as possible when using transport
- minimise the number of surfaces you touch
- immediately upon finishing your journey, we recommend you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible.
Will my usual school transport route be running?
Each school is considering its own local opening arrangements on a phased basis. We are working with schools and other educational settings to provide transport that best fits with schools’ opening arrangements.
We will use the information provided by schools on their transport requirements to schedule the transport. We will be able to confirm your transport arrangements before the 1 June 2020 return date.
The latest information on bus timetables and transport is on our website. Arrangements for SEN children who require transport will be confirmed directly to parents.
Will school transport have social distancing in place?
We are working very closely with our transport suppliers to ensure that as much as possible is done to encourage social distancing, in line with the government guidance.
We know that pre-Covid-19 there has been very high demand for school transport, with all of our school buses having fully allocated seats.
We do not want to turn any children away who need school transport and who have already been allocated seats this academic year.
This means that social distancing may not be possible for every transport situation, but we are encouraging suppliers to do whatever is possible to carry out social distancing.
We are also asking parents to ensure that they consider taking their child to school wherever possible as not only is this in line with government guidance, it will also reduce pressure on the school bus network.
We are also promoting the payment of mileage to SEN parents to support social distancing as it is safer for children to travel in a family/household vehicle.
How will passengers know where to sit?
We are not making any seating changes mandatory as the number of children who require transport may vary each day and we do not wish to prevent any children from having a seat on a bus. We will however be asking each transport supplier to consider if there are any practical changes they can make on vehicles in light of expected passenger numbers to encourage social distancing, such as cordoning off seats. Suppliers are asked to recommend any changes and agree with the Council those arrangements in advance.
How will I know if my child is still eligible for free transport?
If you usually receive Council-provided school transport and still require this from 1 June 2020 you will be able to confirm this with your primary or special school, who are contacting all parents and carers to confirm likely pupil numbers. If you have not heard from your school, contact the school immediately.
Schools will provide information to the Council to confirm what transport provision is needed at each school. This will form the basis of our transport provision for the time being from 1 June 2020.
How will you ensure you do not overcrowd services?
We are working with our transport suppliers to monitor vehicle capacity levels to make sure as far as possible that buses don’t become overcrowded. Where necessary we will ask transport suppliers to make changes and inform schools, parents and carers.
We ask that parents and carers help communicate to students the importance of following social distancing seating changes on vehicles, as this will play a key role in keeping everyone safe.
Will transport suppliers be following health and safety guidance?
We are asking transport suppliers to follow the government guidance where they can. This guidance includes actions such as regular and thorough cleaning of vehicles. The Council is also providing local, detailed guidance to our transport suppliers to support them in putting in place the appropriate health and safety measures.
Government guidance does not recommend the use of PPE for transport staff.
What will happen with school transport for the new school year in September 2020?
The Coronavirus pandemic has meant that we have needed to make some extensive changes to our school transport arrangements. We will need to consider what changes or different arrangements might need to happen from September 2020 when the new academic year starts. If there are any ongoing changes needed from that point we will contact parents and carers directly as soon as possible.
Are there any changes to commercially run services (run independently from the Council)?
A private bus company, Vale Travel, has informed their paying customers that they will be stopping the 627 commercial bus route from September 2020. We have confirmed that there are no children who travel on this bus who are eligible for free home to school transport with the Council. The bus company has notified their customers that the service will be stopped and we have been in touch with the school affected, Chesham Grammar School, who will also be communicating with parents.
Parents and carers are advised to plan to make alternative arrangements for their children to the school in September.