School transport guidelines produced as preparations continue for return of students
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Guidelines have been produced on school transport as preparations are made for a full return of students in September.
Devon County Council has been working with schools, colleges and transport operators to implement the guidelines set out by the Department for Education.
Social distancing guidance, which applies to passengers on public transport, will not apply on dedicated school transport which is not open to the general public.
This is because the government believes the overall risk to students and young people from coronavirus is low, they do not mix with the general public on those journeys, and the home to school transport carries the same group of students and young people on a regular basis.
However, the county council is asking that students aged 11 and over wear a face covering when travelling on school transport, unless they are exempt from wearing one.
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Around 70 duplicate public transport vehicles will be provided across Devon at peak times dedicated to school and college students.
Although school ‘bubbles’ cannot be replicated on dedicated school transport services, children will be asked to sit in their year groups on larger vehicles, wherever possible, with the youngest students sat at the front.
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Councillor James McInnes, Devon County Council cabinet member with responsibility for education, said: “The priority is to make school transport as safe as possible in order to enable students to attend school while minimising the risk of transmission of Covid-19.
“We are working to the government guidance on the transport arrangements but we appreciate that some parents may prefer for their child to walk or cycle to school instead of using school transport. That will be down to parental choice.”
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council cabinet member with responsibility for transport said: “We are working with our transport providers and schools/colleges to provide additional capacity where it’s required on the network.”
Students, drivers and passenger assistants will be advised that they must not board school transport if they or a member of their household has symptoms of coronavirus.
If they develop symptoms while at school, they must not travel home on school transport.
Visit the Devon County Council website for more information