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Home to school transport Coronavirus updates

Frequently asked questions on home to school transport for the 2020/21 academic year in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Frequently Asked Questions - Spring 2021

The following FAQs have been produced to help you understand what the current transport arrangements are for pupils who are entitled to transport assistance from us. They apply to both mainstream pupils and those with SEND (unless otherwise stated below).

We will update them as government guidance is published and updated, so please check back regularly.

Will school transport still be provided?

We have an obligation to continue to provide transport for pupils we consider eligible under our policy. However, the Coronavirus pandemic has made the planning of school transport extremely difficult and we may be physically unable to deliver home to school transport for every pupil that requires it as swiftly as we normally would.

During periods of time when schools/colleges are generally closed due to national lockdowns, we will continue to provide transport for those children classed as vulnerable and/or those of critical workers. We will check with schools which pupils still need transport, so there is no need to confirm directly with us. 

See below for further information on collection of charges and payments of Personal Transport Budgets (PTBs).

How will transport be provided?

We have developed a position statement that outlines how we will carry your child/children to school. In developing the position statement, we followed government guidance on safe return to school.

How many children will be able to travel on each taxi/bus/coach?

Based on government guidance, we will be using most of the vehicle’s available capacity on dedicated transport. On public buses the number of pupils that will be able to travel at any one time will be reduced due to social distancing requirements.

For children travelling on buses and coaches direct to schools this is known as dedicated transport. As the users are often the same group of children travelling regularly and they don't mix with the general public on the transport, this helps limit the number of other people with whom they come into contact and the government has stated that there is no need to adopt social distancing on these vehicles.

Where your child/children are travelling on a public bus and mixing with the general public, then social distancing does apply.

In most cases, where children are traveling in minibuses and taxis, then social distancing doesn't apply.

What about school ‘bubbles’ – will they apply on school transport?

The government guidance acknowledges that implementing ‘bubbles’, even partially, will bring benefits but states that schools may need to allow mixing into wider groups in certain circumstances, this includes on transport.

With limited vehicle capacity and the complexity of home to school transport arrangements, there are limits to the extent to which the school’s bubbles can be matched with transport arrangements.

The government has suggested staggering school start/finish times - how will this affect school transport?

The availability of suitable vehicles at school start and finish times is very limited. In most cases, it isn't possible to arrange transport around each school's needs and therefore we are only operating one inbound and one outbound journey.

How will transport look for SEND pupils?

The transport arrangements for pupils with SEND will be looked at individually. We have reassessed every child’s needs in respect of Coronavirus to minimise the risk of transmission to either the child or transport staff.

Subject to those additional individual risk assessments, it is probable that alternative vehicle provision will be made for some children and/or that passenger assistants (escorts) will be required to wear PPE, due to the need to be in close proximity to the children to carry out their role. We have categorised children to identify those with higher needs in respect of Coronavirus and these have led to further measures that transport staff will put in place. These are outlined in the documents below:

Measures for children requiring extra support due to behavioural needs  Opens new window

Measures for children requiring extra support due to medical needs  Opens new window

Measures applicable to all children  Opens new window

Will children or young people have to wear face coverings?

In accordance with advice from Public Health England, from the autumn term, we recommend that children wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated transport. 
A face covering is a covering of any type which covers your nose and mouth. They:

  • may be particularly useful where measures such as distancing and sitting in bubbles or year groups aren't possible
  • may help children to feel more confident about using home to school transport and parents to feel more confident about their child using home to school transport
  • shouldn't be worn by those who may not be able to handle them as directed (for example, young children, or those with SEND) as it may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission
  • aren't a substitute for other protective measures such as good hand hygiene

Some commercially provided school transport services ('School Specials') will have their own rules about the wearing of face coverings. On public buses wearing of face coverings is mandatory to all those over 11 years of age.

Will drivers and passenger assistants be wearing PPE?

By PPE, we mean equipment such as fluid-resistant surgical face masks, disposable gloves, disposable plastic aprons and eye protection such as a face visor or goggles. We don't mean face coverings. Drivers and passenger assistants will not normally require PPE on home to school transport, even if they aren't able to maintain a distance from the children and young people on the transport. Please note that the current government guidance doesn't make it compulsory for taxi or bus drivers to wear a face covering.

Whilst drivers don't legally have to wear face coverings, we have recommended that both drivers and passengers assistants (escorts) who transport pupils with SEND wear face coverings.

Where the care of a child on home to school transport ordinarily requires the use of PPE, that should continue as usual.

What other measures will be in place for my child or young person travelling on dedicated transport?

We will continue to develop our procedures working with schools, places of education and transport operators to draw up other good practice measures for example:

  • seating arrangements so that children and young people understand where they need to sit on home to school transport - ensuring the same children always sit together will help to minimise the number of contacts each child has
  • first in, last out, with those children getting on first seated at the rear of the bus and the bus filling forwards (such arrangements will require clear communication between schools and families and children)
  • avoiding the use of face to face seating on home to school transport wherever possible

What other measures will be in place for my child travelling on wider public transport?

In addition to the mandatory wearing of face coverings for those over 11, social distancing will mean around only one person per double seat and only sit with someone if they are in your household bubble, there will be no standing allowed and everyone will need to wash or sanitise their hands before and after the journey.

What if there are too many people to socially distance when my child is travelling on wider public transport?

We are continuing to work with bus operators to identify particular areas where this may happen, and additional special school services and ‘duplicate’ public bus services at peak times have already been provided where needed. Details are available from the relevant bus operator and on the Choose how you move website. 

What can I do to help?

If possible (and we know this won’t be an option for many families), you could accompany your child to school, ideally on foot, by bike, or any other means of active travel.

For SEND pupils eligible for transport assistance we also have the Personal Transport Budget scheme (PTB).

Should I car share?

The national advice is not to share a vehicle with those outside your household or support bubble.

I have to pay for my child’s transport (farepayers and nursery/Post 16 SEN students), but my child has had time off school to self-isolate, can I get a refund?

The charges we make for school transport are an annual (not based on the number of days children travel) contribution towards the costs of providing the service, so are only a small fraction of the actual costs needed to supply the service, so ordinarily there is no reduction to the charge for a child that has short periods of time off school, whether this is due to Coronavirus or for any other reason. Generally speaking, we would only make a deduction from your charges if your child was off school for an extended period(s) of time. If this is the case, we will consider a refund of charges once your child’s attendance pattern has been established, and in accordance with your statutory rights.

The same situation applies to students (mainly Post 16) who may have a reduced number of days at college, due to the college attempting to reduce face to face contact with students.

Update as at 19 January 2021:

In response to the national lockdown situation, we have temporarily ceased the collection of all instalment charges for SEND pupils. We will review this as the national/local situation changes and restart collection of charges when transport recommences with any necessary adjustment for non-attendance as appropriate.

I have a Personal Transport Budget (PTB) – will that continue if my child isn’t going to school?

No. We will stop paying PTBs if children are not physically attending school/college (including if they are being ‘home-schooled’) and/or make adjustments for future payments to account for absences. If parents have been paid for long periods of time when a child has not attended, we will seek to recover any overpayments.

Update as at 19 January 2021:

In response to the national lockdown situation, we have temporarily ceased making further PTB payments with immediate effect for parents who are not making arrangements for their child to continue attending school i.e. there will be no monthly payments for the month of February and thereafter, until schools formally reopen to all students.

If your child is still physically attending school regularly, then you must contact us as soon as possible, stating your child’s name and the number of days per week they are due to attend school, otherwise your payments will cease. 

For clarification, ‘attendance’ means physical attendance at a school/college site, it doesn't include virtual/online learning at home.

If your circumstances change, such that your child stops or restarts physically attending school/college, please also let us know. You can find more information and our contact details on our main School transport page.

Page last updated: 19 January 2021

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