Students in Devon are being told they must wear face coverings when travelling on school transport.
Since the start of term, Devon County Council has asked students aged 11 and over to wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated school transport, unless they are exempt. However, many haven’t followed the advice.
The County Council is writing to all parents of students that use school transport to inform them that their children have to wear a face covering with immediate effect when on dedicated school transport – and from Monday 2 November it will become a condition of travel.
This means that the County Council will operate a “two strikes” policy in terms of the wearing of face coverings.
If a student is found not wearing a face covering by the school or transport operator on two occasions, and there is no record of them being exempt from using one, they will be refused travel for a period of time.
Face coverings are mandatory on public transport as part of the Government’s measures to combat COVID 19, but the Department for Education’s (DfE) guidelines state that social distancing does not apply on school transport as it is not open to the general public.
Councillor James McInnes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for education, said: “Although we had previously been asking students aged 11 and over to remember to wear a face covering on school transport, a number of parents have contacted us expressing concerns over the number of children who haven’t been doing so. We’re working closely with schools and transport operators to reinforce the importance of face coverings, and by making it a condition of travelling on school transport we hope to ensure that children have as safe a journey as possible to and from school.”
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for transport said: “We have been in discussion with the DfE and we’ve decided that students over the age of 11 must wear face coverings at all times on dedicated school transport vehicles. We hope parents will impress upon their children the importance of wearing face coverings for their own safety, as well as the safety of their fellow students.”
Those travelling on SEN transport will not be included in this new policy, as the majority of children are in categories which exclude them from wearing face coverings. However, passengers with SEN who can wear a face covering are encouraged to do so.
All secondary schools and colleges are being issued with Devon County Council exemption cards which they will give to exempt students upon parental request. Failure to produce this exemption card when boarding school transport without a face covering could result in a warning and ultimately a refusal to allow the student onto the vehicle. SEN school students will not require an exemption card.
For more details of those who are exempt please visit the government website.