As we approach the final weeks of the summer holidays, it’s time to start thinking about getting your child ready for their return to school.

Returning to school after lockdown is no easy task, we’ve been working closely with all of our local schools and colleges as they prepare to safely welcome back all pupils this September.  

The return to school this year will be a little different to normal, we have been working with all education providers to help them implement the latest Department for Education guidance, create robust risk assessments and take careful mitigating steps to contain the virus.

Each provider has developed its own plan which best suits the needs of the schools and its pupils, measures such as staggered start, break and finish times, increased hygiene, handwashing and cleaning, children remaining in consistent groups, limiting the amount of shared resources, spaces and practical activities will all contribute to minimising risk, while allowing schools to get back to what they do best – teaching.

Cllr Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Torbay Council, said: “It is vital that children and young people return to school and college for their educational progress, wellbeing and their wider development. We recognise that the return to school will be exciting for some children and overwhelming for others. By providing your child with as much information as possible about their return you can help them mentally prepare.

We’ve been working closely with all education providers to ensure a number of important risk reduction measures have been put in place to help students and teachers return to learning with confidence. On our dedicated ‘Returning to school safely’ web pages you can find lots of advice and support”.

Enabling young people to get to school has been a priority, following £100,000 funding from the government to create alternative dedicated school transport to alleviate pressure on public transport, we have been working directly with Stagecoach to provide additional buses on popular school routes.

An additional five extra buses will be running across services 12, 22 and 23, at set times.

Route 12 to Brixham - additional services leaving Torquay Harbour at 07:55 and 08:05.

Route 22 to Paignton Academy, Roselands and South Devon College – additional services leaving Torquay Harbour at 07:48 and 08:15.

Route 23 to South Devon College – additional services leaving Paignton Bus Station at 08:01 and 08:25

Pupils travelling from both Torquay and Paignton to Exeter College will be able to take advantage of coaches (as a rail replacement service) organised by Devon County Council. One coach will depart from Paignton train station, with a further two departing from Torquay train station including a pick-up in Torre using the stop opposite Regents Close.

Pupils that use the GWR service to get to the grammar schools or Torquay Academy will be able to use the normal timetabled services which already have adequate capacity.

Cllr Mike Morey, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Environment and Culture, Torbay Council, said: “Stagecoach, in partnership with our Highways team have been really helpful in putting together a plan to provide additional capacity on some of the busiest routes. This along with the measures from Devon County Council will go a long way in elevating some of the pressures on public transport and enable many pupils to travel on a dedicated bus going only to their school or college. Student and public safety is paramount, anyone travelling on public transport whether to school or work should adhere to all health and safety messages which includes wearing of a face covering”.

Mike Watson, Managing Director at Stagecoach South West, said: “We are delighted to be able to support Torbay Council to deliver vital transport links for our community. By working with Torbay Council, we have been able to ensure we can continue to keep the region moving safely with the introduction of additional school buses. These dedicated school buses will ensure that the back to school rush is managed effectively allowing us to maintain high level of social distancing on our normal services. As well as the additional buses we have also increased our cleaning regime and social distancing measures on board our entire fleet. We are really looking forward to welcoming the students back on board this September.”

Home to School Transport will also be safely accommodated in September. Children using dedicated Home to School Transport will not be required to social distance as they are moving to a single destination. To ensure passenger safety, steps such as seating plans, additional cleaning regimes and PPE for Transport Escorts and Drivers are in place.  Children on Home to School Transport over the age of 11 should wear a face covering if it is safe for them to do so.

For further information and advice on getting you and your child prepared for their return to school visit the Returning to School Safely pages of our website.

For the latest government advice on education and childcare head to the GOV.UK website.

For more information on Stagecoach bus services head to the Stagecoach website.

For more information on GWR rail services head to the GWR website.

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