Councillor Keith Mans, Leader of Hampshire County Council said: “Hampshire schools and colleges are looking forward to welcoming back their students next week, and our teams have been working hard – with extra funding from Government - to ensure all young people have a safe and reliable route to school and college when they start their new academic year in September.
“This includes those students who can walk or cycle, those who live too far to walk or cycle to their catchment school so use transport provided by the County Council, and those who use public transport services – mainly students going to sixth form college.
“During lockdown, many people walked and cycled more than before and through the summer, we’ve put in a range of temporary travel infrastructure which allows more space for cycling and walking while maintaining a safe social distance. This reallocation of road space can be used by anyone walking, cycling or scooting to school as young people start the new school year; and we have put in a bid for more Government funding for additional schemes to build on this.
“I am confident that our Home to School Transport service has robust arrangements in place, including new COVID-safe measures and procedures, and been communicating regularly with schools as we plan for the new term. We’ve also been working closely with transport operators in the county to ensure there is sufficient capacity to get students back to schools and colleges where they use public transport.
“I appreciate this is an uncertain time for all of us, but I would like to reassure parents that we have robust measures in place for their children and young people to travel safely to school and college. As always, our aim is to provide viable alternatives to car travel to reduce traffic congestion, and I would urge people to walk, cycle, scoot or use a bus where they can, and keep traffic around school gates to an absolute minimum.”
Andrew Wickham, Managing Director of Go South Coast, and a member of the South Hampshire Bus Operators Association (SHBOA), said: “Bus operators in Hampshire have extra bus cleaning processes in place, and buses are a safe way of getting to and from school and college.
“The companies have worked very closely with Hampshire County Council and the colleges in the county to ensure there will be space for everyone to travel, on special school services and normal bus routes, with extra buses running this year. As is normal at the start of the school year, we will adjust services if needed to cope with any unforeseen problems.”
Government guidance will apply to home to school travel arrangements for children and young people, eligible for school transport funded by the County Council. There is no requirement for social distancing on dedicated services but there will be a set of controls that will apply, such as use of hand sanitiser and where possible sitting in year groups. Face coverings for pupils are recommended. Enhanced cleaning will apply to vehicles being used on home to school journeys. Pupils who travel on public transport will be required to respect the social distancing measures on public bus services and, if they are aged 11 years old or over, must wear a face covering.