Transport for London has released advice for headteachers and parents across London on how they can help control the Coronavirus as schools begin to reopen.
Walking and cycling will play an important role to make sure that pupils attend safely, helping to make space for those who have no alternative to train travel.
Children are able to return to early years settings, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, from today (1st June).
TfL is working hard to return bus and Tube services to normal levels as soon as possible. It is operating 85 per cent of bus services and 80 per cent of Tube services. However, even if 100% of services ran, the capacity onboard would be around 13-15%.
Schools, parents and guardians can also help to enable social distancing by considering how pupils will get to school and making changes to how schools operate where necessary.
Schools are also being asked, where pupils use buses, to consider staggering their start/finish times to take the pressure off-peak times.
Will Norman, Mayor’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner said: ‘As lockdown measures gradually start to be lifted and schools begin to reopen, it is vital that all Londoners re-assess how they move around our city. Social distancing requirements mean that the transport network is only able to carry a fraction of the number of passengers compared to pre-pandemic levels – even in the coming weeks when we are back to running full services. We are asking Londoners to work with us to ensure capacity on public transport is kept free for those people who need it most – this means many more journeys will need to be walked or cycled.
Will continued ‘Before lockdown 250,000 car journeys in London were associated with the school run, yet the average distance of a school trip is less than one kilometre and can be walked in around ten minutes. With children returning to schools from next week, it’s really important for everyone’s safety that as many of these journeys as possible are instead made either on foot or by bike.’
Gareth Powell, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said ‘As schools begin to reopen and some pupils start to return to classes, we are safely ramping up our services as quickly as possible. Social distancing rules mean that the number of people we can safely carry is significantly constrained. This means that there will continue to be a huge transport challenge in making sure that pupils can get to school and that people who cannot work from home can get to work. That’s why we are working closely with boroughs across London to create the space needed for people to walk and cycle wherever possible. School leaders and staff, parents, guardians, and pupils can all do their part by carefully considering how schools operate and how journeys to school are made, walking and cycling where they can to help make space on public transport for pupils and others who have no alternative.’
Stephen Edwards, Director of Policy and Communications at Living Streets said: ‘Making it possible for families to choose to walk or cycle to school will be an important part of ensuring roads around schools aren’t overwhelmed with cars. In these times, it’s even more important to create space around school gates so families can physically distance. We must not replace one crisis with crises around inactivity, air pollution and climate change. We know that many parents in London have legitimate concerns about air quality and road danger around the school gates. By removing cars, we can reduce these concerns. School Streets across the UK are helping more families choose healthier and cleaner way to walk to school.’
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