Pupils told to continue wearing face masks on school buses
- Credit: PA
Pupils have been told to continue wearing face coverings on school transport when the new term starts next week.
Even though Covid travel restrictions are no longer in place on public transport, the government advice is for children and young people to still wear masks.
Department of Education (DfE) guidance for dedicated school and college transport states: “We recommend that children and young people aged 11 and over continue to wear a face covering when travelling to secondary school or college.”
In Norfolk, about 13,000 pupils each year are eligible for funded school transport. Most travel on dedicated school buses while thousands more use public transport.
Norfolk County Council said it was working with transport operators to ensure children are safe when travelling.
“It is highly recommended by Public Health England that face coverings continue to be worn in enclosed spaces – this includes vehicles,” it said.
“Therefore, we expect all students aged 11 or over to wear face coverings when travelling on our services, unless they have a valid exemption, and for younger children to do so if they can.
“On public transport services, the operator has the right to refuse travel if face coverings are not worn, depending on their own policy.”
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Konectbus said students would have to wear a face covering on its services unless exempt, while it was continuing other measures including keeping bus windows open to help with ventilation.
Bus operator First, which has launched a student ticket via its travel app, recommends passengers wear face coverings and urges contactless payment.
High-touch areas of dedicated school buses are to be wiped down regularly and vehicles are cleaned extra thoroughly at the end of each day.
However DfE guidance no longer recommends social distancing, but “unnecessary risks such as overcrowding should be minimised”.
Norfolk County Council said there was no longer any need for youngsters to sit in year group or class bubbles, but said “we do recommend sitting in a consistent seat with the same group of people where possible, particularly if transport is shared with students from other schools”.
Children should not board dedicated school transport if they, or a family member, have symptoms of coronavirus.