For many families, back to school planning has been different this year than it has been in previous years. Your school will have new policies in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Whatever the situation, the checklist below is intended to help parents, guardians, and caregivers, plan and prepare.
Schools will encourage parents, staff and pupils to walk or cycle to school if at all possible. For some families, driving children to school will also be an option.
It is hoped that at least 50% of those pupils who usually travel on public transport will shift their journeys to cycling or walking. However, these options will not be suitable for all.
For mainstream schools, Blackpool Transport are aware of the needs of the children and we are well planned.
Extra vehicles and staff will be deployed to ensure that all children who have been approved transport can be accommodated. Currently there will be six extra buses operating plus additional contracts available if needed.
Most buses will be operating on a reduced capacity to facilitate the transportation of pupils in ‘bubbles' as agreed with schools and to accommodate social distancing. Families and carers are being encouraged if possible to walk or cycle as an alternative.
The council's in house transport provision for children with special educational needs will also be fully operational from the start of the new school academic year.
Rigorous hygiene, cleaning and reporting procedures have been put in place to minimise the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and risk assessments have been completed by transport services and schools.
Only older young people will use public transport independently and we are working with Blackpool Transport to support this if and when the need arises. Schools will support from day one with expectations about behaviours and parents will be provided with the necessary information.
If you are planning to travel to school or college by bus then make sure that you are aware of the important changes that Blackpool Transport are making to help you get to and from class as safely as possible.
The government is advising that the use of public transport by pupils is kept to an absolute minimum during peak times to reduce demand on the system and ensure that it is available for those who need it most.
You should not travel at all if you:
Cleaning on school transport
Blackpool Transport have provided the following information:
- In service cleaning will be carried out by a team who operate around the town, meeting vehicles at terminus and timing points and conducting touch point sanitation
- We have notices on our vehicles asking passengers to follow government guidelines
- We have seats isolated within vehicles carrying around 40% capacity under 1 metre social distancing.
Face coverings on board
Face coverings are required at all times on public transport (for children over the age of 11).
Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 3 or those who may find it difficult
to manage them correctly. For example, primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory
Some people don't have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons.
In schools where pupils in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises, such as in corridors and communal areas, and in classrooms where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. This was already the case for pupils in year 7 and above, and staff and visitors for those schools that were in areas where local alert level ‘high' and ‘very high'
Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings and we expect adults and pupils to be sensitive to those needs.
In primary schools and education settings teaching year 6 and below, there is no change to the existing position. It is not mandatory for staff and visitors to wear face coverings. In situations where social distancing between adults in settings is not possible (for example when moving around in corridors and communal areas), settings have the discretion to recommend the use of face coverings for adults on site, for both staff and visitors.
Face coverings are required at all times on public transport (except children under the age of 11), when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient, or when in a shop or a supermarket. They should also be worn by pupils in year 7 and above when travelling on dedicated school transport to secondary school or college.
Full uniform is expected to be worn for all schools. Check with the individual school for the uniform requirements.
There is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in a school. Uniforms do not need to be cleaned any more often or differently than usual.
Following the return of pupils from 8 March, the national voucher scheme for children on free school meals will come to an end.
Schools will provide free school meals as usual for those who are eligible.
The normal legal requirements will apply about provision of food to all pupils who want it, including for those eligible for benefits-related free school meals or universal infant free school meals.
Schools will be permitted to run breakfast and after-school activities. Schools will need to make sure these can be delivered in line with the wider guidance on protective measures, so they may need to run things differently and adapt over time.
You should talk to your child's school about whether or not they will be able to run breakfast and after-school activities immediately.
See the latest update from the Department for Education