School transport and Covid-19

This guidance is effective from 8 March 2021 for Herefordshire Council provided school and college transport, and more widely the use of public transport by students travelling to and from school or college.

Please follow the government guidance below to help keep your child safe, please talk to your child about the general advice and rules for their particular type of service.

General advice

To help keep your child and fellow students safe, your child should not travel if:

They must immediately self-isolate and not attend their school or college for at least 10 days from the day after:

Social distancing

  • The requirements for social distancing on board vehicles will depend on the type of service your child is using. You will need to ensure that your child is aware of the requirements for their particular service. Where possible children should keep their distance from others who are not in their household. Public Health England recommends that people stay two metres apart from others who are outside their household or support bubble, or a 'one metre plus' approach where this is not possible. If this isn't possible children should avoid physical contact, face away from others, and keep the time spent near others as short as possible
  • Social distancing should be maintained while queuing, boarding and alighting a vehicle where possible

Dedicated school and college transport vehicles

  • All routes will continue to operate to their normal pre-Covid-19 timetables
  • Government guidance has confirmed that social distancing on dedicated school and college transport vehicles is not mandatory, unlike travel on the public transport network. However, where possible distancing within vehicles should be maintained
    • The government has stated that this takes into account that pupils on dedicated school or college services do not mix with the general public on those journeys and tend to be consistent. This means that the advice for passengers on public transport to adopt a social distance of two metres from people outside their household or support bubble, or a 'one metre plus' approach where this is not possible, does not apply on dedicated transport
    • Your child should, however, sit with their bubble on school transport or with the same constant group of children each day
  • Face coverings must be worn by pupils in year 7 and above when travelling on dedicated school transport to secondary school or college. This does not apply to those who are exempt
  • Face coverings should be worn as per the directions below, your child will require two face coverings per day, one for the journey there and one for the journey back
  • Some people may not be able to wear a face covering, for example primary aged children, people with breathing difficulties and people whose disabilities make it difficult for them to wear or manage a face covering
  • Your child should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise their hands before the journey and as soon as possible after the journey. To facilitate this, the council is providing all school transport operators with hand sanitiser for staff and students to use
  • To promote the 'catch it, bin it, kill it' approach you should ensure your child carries tissues on home to school transport. These will need to be disposed of in a covered bin as soon as possible
  • Transport operators have been advised to clean frequently touched surfaces after each journey wherever possible, and to carry out enhanced cleaning at the end of each day
  • Transport operators have been advised to ensure good ventilation of fresh air wherever possible by keeping windows or roof lights open
  • Government guidance exempts employees of the transport operator from wearing face coverings when they are acting in the course of their employment, however, some employees may choose to wear a face covering as a personal choice or have been directed to wear a face covering by their employer
  • You should engage with the NHS Test and Trace service if required
  • When travelling in taxis or private hire vehicles your child should follow the advice of the driver. For example, they may be asked to sit in the back left hand seat if travelling alone. If they need to be near other people they should avoid physical contact, try not to be face to face with other people, and keep the time spent near other people as short as possible

Public bus and rail services

  • The government advises that capacity on public transport remains limited given the requirements for social distancing. This will be particularly challenging for children and young people who travel to school or college by public bus or train. The government advice is for children and young people to avoid public transport and to walk or cycle to school where possible. We advise parents and carers to plan ahead early to ensure their child can travel to and from school or college safely
  • Face coverings are mandatory on public transport for children aged 11 and over
  • Some public bus services will be closed to the general public and will operate as student only services using the dedicated vehicle control measures described above

Face coverings

  • A cloth face covering should cover your child's mouth and nose while allowing your child to breathe comfortably. The covering can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head
  • Your child should wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before putting on the face covering or taking it off. Your child should avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and should store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them
  • They should not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with their mouth and nose. Once removed, any surfaces that have been in contact with the covering will need to be thoroughly cleaned
  • Face coverings must be washed regularly and can be included with other laundry, using your normal detergent