We understand that families may be anxious about home to school transport arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Welsh Government has issued guidance and the council will be working to these guidelines.
We have been working with operators to re-establish school transport services for the new school year from September 2020 and are confident that provision will be available for all children who are entitled to free transport.
Available seating capacity may continue to be limited.
Parents and carers are encouraged to take children to school by walking or cycling, or private car, rather than using dedicated school transport. We understand that this will not be possible for some people.
School transport routes
We aim to run all school transport routes although some may be reallocated because of capacity.
You will be informed of any changes to your route.
For pupils already receiving free school transport or who have had new arrangements put in place for September, the mainstream school transport routes will continue to operate as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.
If transport was not already provided or you have not received confirmation that your child has been allocated a free seat by 31 August 2020, you must email Passenger.firstname.lastname@example.org
To ensure that there is no overcrowding, only named passengers that have prior approval to travel, or those with secondary school bus passes for the route, will be allowed to use transport.
Drivers will have lists of pupils allocated to their vehicle each day.
‘No pass, no travel’ will be strictly enforced for secondary school vehicles, and those not eligible to travel will be turned away.
Pupils with additional learning needs
We aim to provide the same transport routes into Learning Resource Bases, Pupil Referral Units and special schools, although available seating capacity may be limited.
We will do our best to provide support and where possible will try to use the same contractor, driver and passenger assistant.
Passenger assistants will be provided to ensure that passengers are sitting in the correct place and are safe.
We may need to provide larger vehicles to enable social distancing.
Parents and carers are encouraged to take children to school by walking or cycling, or mobility or private car, rather than using dedicated school transport.
We understand that this will not be possible for some people.
Some parents have been contacted about personal transport budgets if you wish to transport your child yourself, please email Passenger.Transport@newport.gov.uk if you haven’t been contacted and would like more information.
At the moment we are not able to offer concessionary (paid-for) seats to pupils who are not entitled to free school transport.
This is because of measures that have to be in place to keep pupils safely socially distanced.
With limited availability on public transport, the Welsh Government is encouraging parents and carers to take their children to school by walking, cycling, scootering or car.
We will review this situation in October 2020.
Changes to the school journey
School transport may look different when pupils return to school, changes may include travelling with different pupils and transport staff and wearing PPE including masks or visors.
Parents, carers and children should practice social distancing wherever possible.
Please explain to children the importance of following good hygiene and social distancing, as this will play a key role in keeping everyone safe.
Children should be shown how to secure their seat belts so that personal contact is kept to a minimum.
Please follow and explain these precautions to your child to help them prepare:
- do not travel if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of COVID-19 symptoms, or sharing a household with someone who has symptoms or is clinically extremely vulnerable
- consider whether using school transport is absolutely necessary
- wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before leaving the house and on leaving school
- 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 on vehicles
- face away from other people when using transport
- minimise the number of surfaces you touch, 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 on school transport
- board from back to front and try to sit in the same seat every day
- wear a face covering if you are over 11 years old
Refusal to comply with health and safety requirements, good hygiene and social distancing could jeopardise your child’s place on school transport, your support in reinforcing these messages is greatly appreciated.
Social distancing and face covering
Where it is not possible to maintain social distancing between passengers, Welsh Government advice is to use three-layer, non-medical face coverings.
A face covering is required on both dedicated home to school and public transport.
Younger children and those with special needs may not be able to safely wear a face covering and/or visor.
Children over the age of 11 are required to wear face coverings on both dedicated home to school and public transport.
Social distancing on dedicated home to school transport is not required, see Welsh Government school transport guidance.
Where possible, pupils over the age of 11 should maintain social distancing from others who are not in their own household.
Seating arrangements will be carefully considered in line with the school transport guidance and all appropriate actions will be taken to reduce and mitigate risk on the basis that:
- the overall risk to children and young people from COVID-19 is low
- school transport carries the same group of pupils on a regular basis, and those pupils may also be together in school
- siblings can sit together
- there will be no face to face seating
- there will be no contact between pupils and other passengers
- windows and roof vents will be kept open
- contact will be minimised with individuals who are unwell
- all passengers, including the drivers and passenger assistants should wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before boarding transport and when arriving at school or home
- if there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, then it will be easy to identify who was travelling on which vehicle, helping to test, track and trace
- there will be a rigorous cleaning and sanitising regime between before and after each journey
Our transport suppliers are expected to follow Welsh Government Restarting public transport guidance which covers regular sanitising, thorough cleaning of vehicles and the use of PPE.