Earlier this month, a letter was issued to parents and guardians that had requested school transport for their children from their school re-opening until the summer holidays to explain the transport provision.
A questionnaire was sent out, asking parents and guardians to indicate whether they wishes to access school transport and the latest letter outlines the current position, the challenges and what pupils can expect travelling on school transport.
Owing to the current crisis, the Council is managing school transport in a number of different ways, but the main focus is on making transport as safe as possible for pupils and other transport users.
The Council is aiming to provide transport only for those learners who qualify for free school transport whose parents have told us in advance in the questionnaire that their children require it (and no others). Social distancing guidelines must be followed and this has severely limited space on each vehicle. As a result, the Council is generally unable to use four-seat taxis and these are being replaced with larger vehicles wherever possible. This also means that in rural areas feeder taxis generally cannot operate as now or at all.
There may be occasions when the Council cannot provide the transport that children require where there is no driver, passenger assistant or vehicle available. Where there is more demand for the reduced capacity of a vehicle, if your school permits, the Council may be able to offer a second journey. Otherwise, the Council will give priority to those who live farthest from school or for children of key workers.
The Council is asking parents to ensure their children follow some simple rules, to maximise public health:
- If ANYONE in the household is showing any symptoms of or suffering from covid-19, parents must ensure their child(ren) do not travel and stay isolated for the prescribed 14 days. Learners must wash their hands thoroughly before leaving their home or school to board their vehicle.
- Learners must board and alight transport single file, maintaining a 2m distance at all times and follow any instructions given by their driver or school staff
- Each child will be allocated a specific seat on the vehicle and learners must remain in that seat for their entire journey, to ensure everyone can meet distancing requirements. Seating plans will be based on the boarding/alighting point of each learner. There may need to be different arrangements for those travelling on local bus services.
- If you have not received a specific letter or phone call from the Council confirming travel then your child has not been allocated a seat and cannot travel. Drivers are instructed to take only those who are on their list.
- Parents will need to discuss with their children a contingency should a learner at a bus stop not be picked up by the driver (e.g. if the driver has become ill and as a consequence the transport is aborted last minute) or the child’s name is not on the list. Drivers are under instruction to take only those learners on their list. This is for public health reasons.
- If you decide that you no longer require transport for your child/children, please let us know. We can then reuse the seat for another learner from a different family.
Councillor Huw Hilditch Roberts, Cabinet Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement, said: “We fully recognise that the current position is not ideal, but the Council needs to follow stringent guidelines to protect the health of the public and to try and reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading.
“Our main priority is to protect the health and well-being of pupils, as well as staff operating the transport and the guidelines have been drawn up to protect everyone’s safety. There’s a lot of information for parents and guardians to take in and we appreciate this is not an ideal solution for some families. This is a big logistical challenge and we are doing our best to meet the needs whenever we can.
“We are asking parents and their children to help us by following a number of new but simple health and behaviour rules. By working together, we can offer the best transport service we can under these very difficult circumstances”.
New arrangements may apply for transport from September 2020 and the Council may write to parents and guardians if this is the case.