The current public health guidance for school buses is that it is strongly recommended that students, from the age of 11, should wear face coverings while on school buses, unless they are medically exempt.
LibertyBus has announced that face coverings on school buses will become a condition of travel for all students, from the age of 11, from Monday, 21 September 2020.
Over a two week period, from Monday, 21 September to Monday, 5 October, any student who does not have a face mask or the money to pay for one will be given a disposable face mask for free by their bus driver.
Deputy Medical Officer of Health Dr Ivan Muscat added: “The public health advice remains that children and young people are not super spreaders of COVID-19.
“The measures that are in place in school settings, such as separating children into bubbles or year groups and ensuring that they are not in close proximity to others outside their bubble/group for extended periods of time, are not possible to impose on the school bus service.
“We know that school buses are running at full capacity, including standing passengers, so the ability to physically distance from each other and from the bus driver is very limited. We are working with LibertyBus to address the concerns raised by parents, schools and the drivers to ensure everyone on board is protected.”
Children under the age of 11 will be exempt from wearing a mask, while students who have a health condition, which would prevent them from wearing masks, will be issued with an exemption card.
LibertyBus will make these cards available to the schools and the schools will be asked to issue them to children based on the children’s medical history.
Education Minister Senator Tracey Vallois said: “We were informed by LibertyBus, last week, of their decision to make it a condition for students, from the age of 11 onwards, to wear face masks when travelling on school buses.
“LibertyBus has assured the Government of Jersey that no student will ever be denied access to a school bus for not wearing a mask.
“We appreciate that this will be a new experience for many of our students and we will continue to be understanding and work with LibertyBus to ensure that all schools, students and their families are aware of the new guidelines for school buses. We will offer support to any young person or family who might have difficulties purchasing a mask or is unable to wear one for health reasons.
“Students are strongly encouraged to wear their own mask but anyone young person who does not have a face mask or the money to buy one will be given a free disposable by bus drivers over the next two weeks.
“Each school also will be given a supply of disposable masks by the Department of Children, Young People, Education and Skills. If schools are aware or are alerted to the fact that the student does not have access to a mask or funds to purchase them, then the school will support the student.”
Government of Jersey News Release.