Cheshire East Council is asking parents and carers to help keep school gates clear of traffic when pupils return to class in September.
Around 56,000 children and young people attend more than 170 schools and colleges across the borough. Of these, around 3,500 students are eligible to receive free dedicated home-to-school transport, funded by the council, leaving around 52,500 making their own arrangements for the journeys to and from school every day.
The council recognises that some parents and carers will choose to take their children to school by car and is asking them to help by planning their journeys in advance. Several active travel initiatives are being promoted to help with this, with information and support provided to schools to help them encourage walking, cycling or scooting. Schemes such as ‘park and stride’ can also help relieve congestion where parents park or drop off in a safe, considerate place away from school gates and walk the remainder of the journey.
To safely manage transport for the return to school – especially after such a long period away for many pupils – the council has also put in place additional buses that will be restricted to picking up pupils only. Information on transport arrangements in place from 1 September can be found online at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/schooltransport
For those travelling on school buses, the council is implementing a number of measures, in line with government guidance, to minimise the risk of coronavirus, including:
● Promoting the use of hand sanitiser upon boarding and/or disembarking;
● Additional cleaning of vehicles;
● Organised queuing and boarding, where possible;
● Distancing within vehicles, wherever possible; and
● The use of face coverings for children (except those who are exempt), where appropriate, for example, if they are likely to come into very close contact with people outside of their group or who they do not normally meet.
Parents are also advised that there is a delay in issuing school bus passes, and the council has arranged a two-week grace period where young people can travel without showing their pass until it arrives.
Any young people using trains to get to school or college need to be aware that it is essential to wear a face covering (unless exempt), maintain social distancing and be mindful of people around them.
Councillor Kathryn Flavell, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “After most of us entered lockdown back in March, with many children continuing their education at home, I understand that the return to school may feel daunting for some parents.
“I’d like to reassure them that teams across the council are working tirelessly with schools and transport providers to implement safety measures in readiness for the new term.
“We’d like to ask parents and carers who have to drive, to help us to ensure children and young people get to and from school safely and relieve congestion by planning their journeys and parking in a safe and considerate location.”
Councillor Laura Crane, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for highways and waste, said: “Walking, cycling or scooting to school are some of the simplest ways to reduce congestion and pollution around school gates. As we emerge from the Covid-19 restrictions, the benefits of active travel on improved mental and physical wellbeing are more important than ever.
“We recognise that for some people, walking to school isn’t possible, and I urge everyone who does the school run by car to keep the routes around the school gates clear by parking a safe distance away and walking the last 10 minutes where possible.”
Parents are also advised to check their school's website and social media channels regularly for the latest information from their school and details about drop off and pick up arrangements.