FAQ for pupils returning/starting on School Transport in September 2020
My child is entitled to statutory home to school transport, will this be provided when schools re-open in September?
The Council has allocated transport for all statutory pupils and you should have received a letter confirming this. If your child is a secondary school pupil, they will also have received a bus pass, if you have provided a photograph. If you haven’t received a letter or need to provide a photograph please contact us.
In line with Welsh Government guidance, we would encourage all parents/guardians where possible to take children to school by walking or cycling, or alternatively by mobility car or private car, rather than using dedicated school transport. We understand however, that this will not be possible for some people.
I have not yet applied for school transport and I believe that my child qualifies for statutory home to school transport, is it too late to apply now?
No, if you have not already done so please fill in the application form that can be found online using the following link.
Will my child’s usual school transport route be running?
We have tried to ensure all routes stay the same; however, some contracts may have been altered to accommodate changes in demand in the local area. Your letter from us will confirm which operator will be responsible for providing transport for your child. Operators are currently planning their routes so we ask that you do not contact them until the week commencing Monday 24th August. They will then be in a position to confirm individuals pick up times and locations.
My child has additional learning needs. What transport arrangements will be in place to Additional Learning Needs Classes, Pupil Referral Units and Special Schools?
We are working to maintain the same transport routes for Additional Learning Needs Classes, Pupil Referral Units and Special Schools and information regarding your child’s contract will be with you soon if not already. This also includes Post 16 ALN applications. If you have not yet received your child’s transport arrangements please contact us.
My child is not entitled to free school transport; can I apply for Post 16 concessionary or concessionary transport?
We will start the assessment and allocation of Post 16 concessionary transport from September 7th 2020. Please be aware that year on year vacant seats on home to school transport are reducing as the numbers of pupils entitled to statutory transport increases. There is no guarantee that we will have any vacant seats and that if we do they will be where we have received applications for discretionary transport. In the first instance, we will be dealing with Post 16 applications and will be allocating provision based on previous eligibility for statutory transport and distance from their education setting. Following that we will then assess and allocate, where capacity allows, Concessionary transport. This will be prioritised on first come first serve basis as well as distance from the education setting, this aligns with Welsh Government guidance which encourages the use of active travel where possible.
What will school transport look like when schools return in the autumn term?
The Welsh Government has issued guidance for the reopening of schools in September and the Council will be working to those guidelines going forward.
It is important for parents/carers and children to practice social distancing wherever possible. Passenger assistants will only be allocated to ALN contracts or if there has been a historic requirement for one on the vehicle. Their role will be to ensure the safety of passengers and ensure that they are sitting in the correct location. Children should be shown how to secure their seat belts, ensuring that personal contact is kept to an absolute minimum.
What precautions must my child take when travelling?
We ask that parents/guardians help communicate to pupils the importance of following good hygiene and social distancing, as this will play a key role in keeping everyone safe.
This means taking the following precautions:
- do not travel if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolating as a result of COVID-19 symptoms, sharing a household with somebody with symptoms or clinically extremely vulnerable;
- consider if using school transport is absolutely necessary;
- wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before leaving the house;
- where possible keep a social distance from people outside of your own household throughout the journey to school, including at the bus stop and on the vehicle;
- avoid physical contact with others;
- windows will be open for ventilation,
- face away from other people when using transport;
- minimise the number of surfaces you touch, and in particular avoid touching surfaces such as handrails and window ledges;
- do not touch your face;
- keep the time spent near others as short as possible when using school transport,
- do not eat or drink whilst using transport;
- wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before leaving school;
What will the arrangements for social distancing be on school transport?
Welsh Government guidance confirms that social distancing on dedicated home to school transport is not required (please see guidance). Pupils should maintain social distancing from others who are not in their household if they are over the age of 11 if possible (social distancing does not apply to children under the age of 11). If this is not possible, they should avoid physical contact and face away from others.
Face covering update for Parents
As you may be aware, following updated medical advice Welsh Government has asked all Local Authorities to review the wearing of face coverings on Home to School Transport. We have undertaken a risk assessment and have concluded that we will be asking all young people aged 11 or over travelling on home to school transport to wear a face covering, if they are able to do so. We have taken this decision because:
- We are unable to observe social distancing on home to school transport.
- Seats on transport are allocated based on where you live and the journey times to the education setting. This means that passengers may be in different classes, school years or even schools, increasing their contact risk.
- The Chief Medical Officer has recommended the wearing of face coverings for all young people over 11 in indoor settings where social distance cannot be maintained, including school transport.
We apologise for the short notice in this policy change and have prepared some FAQs to answer any questions that you may have.
- Do I have to provide a medical mask?
No, we ask that you provide a face covering that fit your child’s face without gaps. This can be handmade or shop bought. We would ask that you ensure your child knows how to put on and wear a face covering prior to accessing school transport.
- My child cannot wear a mask for medical reasons; do I need to let anyone know?
Please could you let the Passenger Transport Unit know so that we can contact the Operator and make them aware.
- I do not agree with the wearing of face masks, so will not be providing one.
We have taken the decision that it is safer for your child and the other passengers on the vehicle if face coverings are worn by young people aged 11 or over. If you fail to provide your child with a face covering, we will contact you to remind you that this is a requirement on our transport and will if necessary implement sanctions, which could involve the removal of your child from transport (see the Wales Travel Behaviour Code).
- What happens if my child forgets their face covering?
We will not refuse transport if someone has forgotten their face covering. We are asking operators to carry spare face coverings in case someone does forget theirs.
- Will there be anyone monitoring the wearing of face coverings during the journey?
If there is a passenger assistant on the vehicle, they will be able to monitor that face coverings are being worn. If there are no passenger assistants on the vehicle, we will be unable to undertake any monitoring.
- Will drivers and passenger assistants being wearing face coverings?
All Operators have been asked to ensure that appropriate PPE is worn by passenger assistants and that drivers wear face masks, if they are able to do so.
We appreciate that we may not have answered all your queries, so please contact us at email@example.com if you have any further questions.
My child does not attend school on a full time basis for two weeks, will transport still be provided?
We are aware that schools are adopting different transition arrangements for pupils during the first two weeks of the new term. It would be helpful if you could advise operators of your child’s transport needs for the first two weeks. You can do this when they contact you to confirm your child’s pick up arrangements. If we or the Operator do not hear from you, transport will be available every day from the start of term.
I have reservations about sending my child to school using home to school transport until I have seen how it is operating, will I lose my child’s seat if they do not use it straight away?
If your child have been awarded a seat, then it will continue to be available to you. We would ask that if you have now changed your mind and you no longer wish to use home to school transport that you let us know this so that we can re-allocate the seat.
While parents / carers may feel apprehensive about the risks in using school transport during the COVID-19 pandemic, they should decide whether to do so, or, if they prefer, they should make their own arrangements to transport their child to and from school.
Message to Operators
Following the decision by Welsh Government to defer the use of face coverings on dedicated home to school transport to local authorities; our Cabinet Members have reviewed our policy position. It has been agreed that we will be asking all young people aged 11 and over to wear a face covering whilst travelling on school transport. We understand that not all young people will be able to wear a mask due to medical conditions and they will be exempt from this requirement. In keeping with this policy, we also require all drivers and passenger assistants to wear a face covering. If they are unable to do so for medical reasons, you will be required to provide us a copy of your risk assessment to evidence that it is safe for your staff member to continue to undertake their duties and the mitigation you are putting in place to minimise the risk to their health.
We have also been asked to remind operators by Public Protection that in the event of a positive covid test, we will be asked to provide them with the information of all of those young people that travelled on specified dates. In order to do this we will need to understand from you if there were any young people who did not travel due to sickness, transition days etc. Can you please therefore, ensure that your drivers are maintaining a record of who is travelling each day and this should be shared with the passenger transport unit on a daily basis.
We have put together some FAQ’s around this change, but please contact us if you have any further queries.
- What should I do if a young person 11 or over wants to travel on my vehicle without wearing a face covering?
No one can be refused access to transport for not wearing a face covering. Please allow the young person to board the vehicle and offer them a face covering in case they have forgotten theirs or were not provided one by their parents.
- A young person frequently travels without wearing a face covering and has refused to accept a spare face covering from the driver.
There may be a medical reason why the young person is not wearing a face covering, please record the details of the young person and pass these to the passenger transport unit so that we can make enquires with their parents/carer.
- If I have to provide spare face coverings, will these be reimbursed?
Please can you record when face coverings are issued and to whom so that we can identify if we need to contact parents to remind them of the policy. We will reimburse the cost of providing spare face coverings to young people where evidence of costs is provided.
- Will the driver have to monitor whether young people are wearing face coverings during the journey?
No, the driver’s responsibility will be to remind young people as they access and egress the vehicle to wear face coverings if they are not already doing so, during the journey the driver’s responsibility is to ensure that they are driving in a safe, legal manner.
- Do we have to collect and dispose of face coverings?
No, please ask all young people to wear their face coverings as they leave the vehicles.