School Transport Parent/Carer & Pupil guidance

Guidance for parents/carers to support children using school transport

Home to School Transport 

COVID 19 Parent/Carer and Pupil Guidance

This guidance sets out expectations and key requirements relating to home to school transport for parents/carers and pupils in light of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The protocol draws on national guidance and is aligned with Public Health guidance in order that consistent practice can be applied across school transport provision in West Lothian.

Please note that national guidance is subject to change and this guidance could be affected by such changes.  West Lothian Council will endeavour to update and issue revised versions of the guidance should this be necessary.

1.  General Principles

1.1  Pupils must not use school transport if they, or a member of their household, have symptoms of COVID-19.  Parents should ensure that up to date health protection advice is followed on household or self- isolation if pupils or someone in their household exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, or if they have been identified by NHS contact tracers as a close contact of someone with the virus.  It is essential that people do not attend school if symptomatic, but instead self-isolate (along with their household) and follow guidance on NHS Inform and from Test and Protect.  The NHS Inform website can be accessed NHS Inform website


1.2  As per national guidance, dedicated school transport is regarded as an extension of the school estate and therefore physical distancing measures between children and young people of all ages are not necessary (subject to continued low levels of infection within Scotland).

1.3  Dedicated school transport includes contracted large vehicle transport such as buses and coach as well as small vehicle transport including minibuses, taxi and private vehicles.

1.4  Face coverings [updated effective from 31 August 2020] should be worn by children aged 5 years and over on dedicated school transport (unless exemptions apply). This means that the position on face coverings on dedicated school transport is consistent with the position on public transport.

 1.5  Transport staff operating dedicated school transport will conform with the requirements for public transport and will maintain 1 metre distancing from pupils and other adults.  It is understood that 1 metre distancing is not always possible in small vehicle transport therefore mitigating factors (i.e PPE, hand sanitiser, enhanced ventilation) will made available for transport staff.

1.6  Transport staff will be required to wear face coverings for the duration of each journey, unless recognised medical conditions prevent this. 

1.7  The consumption and sharing of food and drink is not permitted in school transport.

2.     Mitigating Factors

This guidance also reflects the scientific advice from the COVID-19 Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children regarding the requirements for the safe travel of children and young people to/from school.  It is essential that care is taken in every respect to avoid transmission of infection.  Therefore, mitigating factors will be implemented within school transport such as enhanced vehicle cleaning and ventilation, use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and physical distancing between transport staff and pupils where practical.

Parents should ensure pupils sanitise their hands prior to boarding dedicated school transport.  Hand washing/hand sanitising should be done regularly throughout the day including on each and every entry to the school building and prior to boarding the school bus.  Good respiratory hygiene should be displayed ("Catch it, kill it, bin it") and where possible pupils should carry tissues on home to school transport.

3.     Pupils Travelling on School Buses

In line with national Test and Protect guidelines, there is a requirement to record every pupil registered for each bus, therefore no pupil will be allowed to travel on school transport unless they are registered in advance and show the necessary bus pass for the route. 

Pupils should carry bus permits with them at all times.  Pupils who do not have a valid bus pass will not be permitted to travel, and pupils with valid passes will only be able to travel on the route that they have been assigned. 

If a pupil has lost their pass, an application for a replacement should be made online.

Non-entitled pupils travelling on fare-paying routes must now book and pre-pay journeys in advance. Pupils will not be able to travel unless they have pre-booked and have a valid ticket for the journey.  Parents should contact individual schools for information on pre-booking fare paying transport.

In some vehicles, seats will be removed or cordoned off in order to ensure a 1 metre physical distance between drivers and pupils.  Pupils must adhere to this requirement.

4.     Pupils Travelling on Small Vehicle Transport

As is the case in all situations where home to school transport is provided for children with specific needs, the school will undertake a pupil risk assessment to determine specific transport needs for individual pupils.  This may lead to specific PPE requirements for the driver and/or escort.

4.1  Face coverings

As a general rule transport staff will be required to wear face coverings whilst operating small vehicle and additional support needs transport.  However, this requires to be balanced with the wellbeing and needs of the child; it is appreciated that face coverings may limit communication and could cause distress to some children.  This will be determined though the risk assessment process.

4.2  Wheelchairs

When travelling in a power or manual self-propelled wheelchair, where able to do so, pupils should self-propel into the vehicle or drive their chair in. Where a manual attendant-pushed wheelchair or mobility buggy is used, the driver or passenger assistant will be responsible for getting the chair onto the transport and securing in accordance with the wheelchair and vehicle requirements.

Parents should ensure that wheelchairs are cleaned regularly.

4.3  Car Seats, Harnesses and Other Equipment

Where possible, car seats and other transport aids should be kept for individual users and not shared.  The same will apply for harnesses and other specialist equipment.  All transport equipment should be frequently cleaned.

Parents should minimise pupils carrying non-essential personal items on board transport.

4.4  Passenger Assistants

In carrying out their role, Passenger Assistants will often need to come into close proximity with pupils (i.e fastening seatbelts, hand holding), and as such will aim to work from the sides and avoid close face-to-face proximity.   Additionally, PPE and hygiene requirements will be adhered to.

4.5  Meet and Greet Requirements

A meet and greet will still be provided for all pupils with additional support needs.

Operators will contact parents in advance of the start of the school session to agree an appropriate process to complete the meet and greet.   Alternative meet and greet arrangements such as video conferencing, garden visits and/or photographs of staff and vehicles will be available on request.

4.6  Pick-up/Drop-off Procedures

Parents should agree in advance with transport staff the preferred process for pick-up and drop-off of pupils which takes into consideration pupil needs but also minimises the interactions between transport staff and households.

Parents should not assist children in and out of the vehicle where there is more than one pupil in the vehicle; this must be done by transport staff.

5.     Where a Pupil Displays Symptoms

If a child or young person appears unwell with symptoms on the journey to school on arrival at school the driver will inform a member of school staff and parents will be contacted.  Parents will be responsible for arranging transport home.

If a child or young person appears unwell with symptoms on the journey home from school the journey will continue as scheduled.  Parents should ensure that up to date health protection advice is followed on household or self- isolation if pupils or someone in their household exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, or if they have been identified by NHS contact tracers as a close contact of someone with the virus.

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