New guidance published on transport to school and toolkit released on use of face coverings

New guidance has been published on Transport to school and other places of education: autumn term 2020, which gives advice on safe travel to educational settings and managing risk. It is mostly directed at local authorities, transport operators and education settings but will also be useful for parents/carers preparing for the return to school.

The guidance is intended to support all children and young people to return to full time education, for all year groups and all educational settings. It is in two parts:

  • Part A provides guidance for local authorities on managing the capacity of, and demand for, public transport, and increasing capacity of both public and dedicated home to school services, so that children can travel safely to and from school.
  • Part B provides guidance about taking measures to reduce risk on dedicated home to school transport in the autumn term.

Part B addresses some key points on reducing risk, including specific guidance for children with SEND. The guidance says:

When deciding on the package of measures that is appropriate on transport for children and young people with special educational needs, local authorities will need to take account the particular needs of the children using the transport, and to be informed by the views of the parents and school.

In addition the guidance acknowledges that:

Some children and young people with SEND will not be able to use a face covering properly and should not be expected to do so as this may increase the risk of transmission. Some children may be distressed by wearing a face covering, or by others wearing them. Others may become distressed if they and other people do not wear them.

Some children and young people may need to be able to lip read, or see people’s faces, to communicate. There are companies now making lip-reading friendly face coverings.

Although drivers and passenger assistants will not normally require personal protective equipment (PPE) on home to school transport (see below), where the care a child or young person ordinarily receives on home to school transport requires the use of PPE, that should continue as usual.

In light of this guidance, the Disability Unit have worked with Public Health England to develop a new Face Coverings Exemptions Toolkit.

Many people are concerned about their use or not of face masks and the respect of their rights and needs when not being able to. This toolkit contains some useful visual cards and posters to raise awareness and inform others of an individual’s exemption from using coverings. There are also some posters that can be displayed in settings to raise awareness of this issue.

When you visit the website there is a Zip folder to download and you will be able to save the badges and posters directly to your computer for printing.

CDC’s director, Dame Christine Lenehan says:

‘We welcome the development of the toolkit and the acknowledgment of the situation for those who cannot wear a face covering and respecting their rights – not all disabilities are visible. The toolkit provides some simple assets for people to use that can help protect and support their rights.’