Schools across Bath and the surrounding area are planning to open to all pupils this September, Bath and North East Somerset Council has announced.
Parents and pupils are being contacted by their schools about the measures they have put in place to reopen safely.
Parents with any questions about their child’s school reopening should, in the first instance, contact the school directly.
In line with the Government’s plans to open schools fully to all students from September, Bath and North East Somerset Council is also considering safe travel to school.
It is working with transport providers and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), which is the public transport authority for the region, to ensure a smooth return to school for pupils.
Councillor Kevin Guy, cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “It is essential that children can get back into the classroom and the council has been doing everything in its power to ensure schools in Bath and North East Somerset open fully and safely in September.
“The majority of schools in Bath & North East Somerset are academy schools and not directly controlled by the local authority however we have been supporting them as they prepare to reopen safely.
“Our public health team is working with schools providing guidance on how to be ensure the right infection control is in place and how to manage any concerns or even cases should they occur. We have also provided mental health guidance.
“We are working with transport providers, as well as the transport authority WECA, to make sure children can get to school safely. We are currently waiting for further detail from government following its recent announcement about additional funding for school transport.”
All schools will be carrying out a full risk assessment to ensure that all Department for Education and Public Health England measures on school reopening are being implemented.
The council is supporting with this by:
- Providing information on how to reduce the risk of infection so as to keep all students and staff safe.
- Working with schools to ensure that they are aware of how to manage any cases of COVID-19 in a school.
- Working with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to provide information to schools on how to support the mental health and wellbeing of pupils and staff when school returns.
- Providing comprehensive details of all the teams in the council available to give advice to support the return of all pupils to all educational settings.
- Working with transport providers and WECA.
If your child is entitled to free Home-to-School transport from Bath & North East Somerset it is anticipated that, where possible, transport will be provided normally.
This means for taxis, minibuses, dedicated ‘closed-door’ school coaches:
- Children will be travelling within their school group, but not in their Year groups or ‘bubbles’.
- Children aged over 11 should wear face coverings and use hand sanitiser.
- A system will be in place to ensure the vehicles used are deep cleaned before and after travel.
The Passenger Transport team will be in touch with parents/guardians with information relating to operator, boarding points and timings.
Where large groups of students entitled to free Home-to-School transport are carried on public buses, the council will endeavour to temporarily move these pupils onto dedicated ‘closed-door’ alternatives.
The public bus network is currently running at reduced capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions, and temporarily transporting these entitled students on alternative services will mean that more seats on these routes remain available to the general public.
Public bus routes with small numbers of entitled Home-to-School pupils on board should run as normal and capacity issues will be monitored carefully.
Face coverings must be worn on public transport, and social distancing rules apply.
If your child is not entitled to free Home-to-School transport, the council is asking parents/guardians to consider their child’s travel options carefully.
It is likely there will be capacity issues on the public bus network due to coronavirus restrictions.
B&NES Council is asking residents to consider cycling or walking, but to bear in mind that there is likely to be increased congestion around school premises.
If your child purchases a seat on a council-contracted school journey through the Farepayer scheme, it is expected that the Farepayer scheme will run, wherever possible, as normal.
However, there may be a greater delay this year in arranging the Farepayer scheme as the council has fewer ‘spare seats’ available because of social distancing measures.
Furthermore, your child might not get their first choice of route and boarding point, but this situation could be temporary as the COVID-19 situation eases.
B&NES Council say they understand that a small number of commercially operated bus routes may not be operating in September and their unavailability will have an impact on students.
The routes the local authority are aware of currently include:
- Ralph Allen: First will not be running their R2 route from Twerton – Ralph Allen School, but a replacement service is being offered by ABus using a double-deck bus. Details of timings/route/fares will be communicated when released by the company.
Additional government advice for parents and carers can be found here.