Gillian Martin, MSP, raised the issue of ensuring there school transport can operate safely when schools go back after the summer holiday with John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education.
Responding to Ms Martin during a virtual session of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Mr Swinney outlined that public health advice being followed by the Scottish Government indicates both that children and young people will not be required to observe physical distancing in schools, and that school transport should be seen as an extension of the school estate.
The Deputy First Minister stated that guidance currently being developed will be issued on 30th July that will include advice for bus operators. who have been consulted throughout the process. Mr Swinney assured Ms Martin that the stakeholders contributing to the process to form the guidance includes parents, families and also bus operators.
Pupils are due to return to school in Aberdeenshire on 12th August, if the Scottish Government gives the green light on Thursday 30th July. Ms Martin previously successfully passed legislation in the Scottish Parliament to ensure buses contracted to carry school children are fitted with seatbelts. Now she is working once more to make sure the children of Aberdeenshire get to and from school safely.
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP for Aberdeenshire East said
School transport is vital to communities in rural constituencies, such as my own. Parents need to know that the capacity exits – as it did before covid-19 – to get their kids to and from school safely.
I was reassured that families and bus operators have been involved in the process of developing guidance.
It was great that Mr Swinney was able to confirm that physical distancing for kids on school transport will not be necessary as things stand.
Getting kids back to school is vital for them. Parents have put in great effort to keep the education of their children ticking over, but schools provide things that are irreplaceable. Parents need to be sure that the journey of their kids to school is a safe one. I was pleased with the processes outlined by the Education Secretary backed up by expert public health advice to ensure that will be the case.