Transport update from Gloucestershire County Council (August 2020):
1. Bus routes and timetables: All closed school routes and timetables will run as they did prior to the lockdown with no reduced capacity due to social distancing and students should go to their bus stops as they normally do. Timetables can be checked by going to https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/transport/school-and-college-transport/school-bus-timetables/
2. Bus passes: New bus passes for returning and new year 7 secondary school students are being sent to home addresses and will be with students by the end of August at the latest.
3. Seating bubbles: Students that travel on GCC contracted routes (those which only take GCC pass holding students) will need to sit in their ‘year group bubbles’ on the bus. We will be speaking with everyone of our operators on a school by school basis and they will be given a bubble plan for each route to inform they of how many seats are required for each year group so it can be made clear where the students need to sit. Obviously the driver is not going to know each child and what year group they are in so we need the students to sit in their correct bubbles and not try to sit by their friend in a different year. On busy routes where every seat needs to be used there will be students from different year groups sat by each other as this is unavoidable where to bubbles are adjacent.
4. Spare seat scheme: We will be offering the scheme and we will contract parents directly, assuming they have completed an application form, if there is capacity on the vehicle to offer them a seat. As in previous years we may not be able to make offers of spare seats to parents prior to the start of term, this is due to the fact that many late applications arrive leaving us uncertain of actual spare capacity.
5. School bubbles: Where we have a GCC contracted route that serves more than one school, we will separate the route on to different vehicles so that only one vehicle serves one school. Privately operated routes that take several schools on the same bus (mainly grammar schools) will still operate as normal as this is the only way to make the service viable, but we will speak with those operators and ask that the students are seated in ‘school bubbles’.
6. Face coverings: On GCC contracted routes face coverings should be worn whilst on the vehicle, this includes any students that are brought to school by taxi/minibus. In the first week of September when GCC pass holding students board the vehicle they will be asked by the driver to take two washable face masks from a box. Students are being given two reusable face masks so they always have one wear whilst the other is in the wash. We ask that students only take the two allocated to them to ensure there are enough for everyone. Students that travel on public transport must wear a face covering, as it’s not feasible to have these ready to collect on a public transport route we will send these to the school for children to collect on their first day. This means on the morning of their first day they will need to provide their own face covering for the journey in to school using public transport. If students prefer to wear their own face coverings rather than the reusable ones supplied by GCC that is absolutely fine, its their personal choice.
7. Waiting at the bus stop: Students need to social distance from each other whilst waiting at bus stops, only students from the same household or year group should stand together. Like many of the above measures we are dependant on students taking responsibility for this themselves and being sensible.
8. Cleaning of vehicles: We can assure you that our operators have increased their cleaning schedules on the vehicles and they will be thoroughly cleaned each day and cleaned between different bubbles using the vehicle.
9. Latest Government Guidelines: Please follow this link to find out all the latest information and guidance for transport https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-transport-guidance-for-operators/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-transport-guidance-for-operators