Posted: 11.09.20 at 06:00 by Daniel Mumby - Local Democracy Reporter
Children using school buses will have to follow strict guidelines in the weeks ahead as lessons resume under the ‘new normal’.
Somerset County Council has published guidance as to how primary, secondary and college pupils should behave when using school buses or coaches on their daily journeys.
Much of the advice is common sense and similar to other advice for being in public – but it’s always worth re-familiarising yourself just to be safe.
Here’s everything you need to know about what pupils should and shouldn’t do while they’re travelling to and from school on the bus:
This is advisable – even though the risk of them contracting Covid-19 is deemed to be “very low”.
This is because schoolchildren do not mix with the general public during their journeys, there is less risk of them spreading the disease to other groups.
However, if you can practice social distancing within your bus or coach, you should do so wherever possible.
A spokesman said: “It will not be realistically possible to transport in year-group bubbles due to the geographic nature of the school routes.
“It is also difficult to enforce initially, but in practice this often occurs with younger age groups occupying the front seats through to older children to the rear.
“Although social distancing guidelines that apply on public transport will not apply on dedicated school transport, social distancing should still be maximised within vehicles wherever it is possible, between individuals or ‘bubbles’.
There is no legal requirement for this – but if children can do, it would be helpful.
Some seats may be marked ‘out of use’ to enable social distancing – and children should not sit in any of these.
Where children and young people from different schools travel at the same time on the same school bus, the children and young people from each school should sit together as a group.
This is strongly recommended for all secondary school and college pupils – unless they fall into one of the existing exemption categories.
There is, however, no requirement for drivers or passenger assistants to wear such masks.
If you wear a disposable face covering, these should be disposed of in a covered bin.
If your face mask is reusable, it should be placed in a plastic bag that can be brought home.
All pupils should wash their hands before and after removing their mask.
The council also advises that as much fresh air as possible should be allowed into the school bus during journeys.
Absolutely not. Children and young people must not travel on school transport if displaying symptoms.
If your child falls ill during the school day, it is your responsibility as parents or guardians to ensure they are picked up from school – and they should only return when it is safe to do so.
If a driver or passenger assistant tests positive for coronavirus, they must alert the NHS track and trace service and self-isolate.
In addition to washing hands before and after removing their masks, pupils should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds before leaving home to catch the bus.
If possible, they should sanitise their hands again before boarding and again after disembarking.
Surfaces on buses which are regularly touched by pupils will be cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis.
The council expects all children on school buses to board in a “calm and orderly manner” and stay in their seats with their seat belts on while the bus is in motion.
Children should not eat or drink on the journeys and should behave sensibly – or they will face being removed from school transport.
A spokesman said: “We will be taking quick and necessary action with children and young people who are not following government guidance and recommendations.
“If a child is removed from transport due to bad behaviour, it will then become the parent or carer’s responsibility to ensure their attendance at school at their own expense.”
If you don’t want your child to use a school bus, it is your responsibility to get them there.
However, you will still have to obey government guidelines and the school’s individual policies regarding gatherings at entrances, arrival and departure points.
If your child chooses to use, or has to use, public transport to access school, they must wear a face mask by law.
For more information call 0300 123 2224.