Students in Guernsey are being encouraged to walk and cycle to school because of limited spaces on buses.
Schools across the island are due to reopen on Monday 8 June.
We are asking parents and carers to try, wherever possible, to make alternative arrangements for their children to get to and from school. For some, we know that is not going to be possible, but for any student able to walk or cycle it really is very important that they do so we can save the limited bus seats for those who really need them.
Guernsey's government is also asking that people avoid travelling by car where possible to avoid traffic congestion.
When we prioritise space for cars over space for people, social distancing is much more difficult, and sometimes impossible. We all understand why we have to minimise bus use at the moment, but if all of those students switch to cars, we could have a very, very big problem on our hands. Using my children’s primary school as an example, most students live within a mile, and there are loads of places nearby that could be used for drop and stride or park and stride for families that live further away. We know lots of children want to walk and cycle: we need to help make that possible for them.
For families where it is necessary for the student to travel by bus, parents and carers will have to fill in a form expressing an interest in a place fortheir child.
The form is included in the guidance document about returning to school which was sent to parents and published yesterday.
If more students need a seat on a bus than the reduced capacity will allow, priority will be given to those that live furthest away from their school.
The Committee for the Environment and Infrastructure has conducted a number of surveys, which it says indicates more people would walk or ride a bike if the roads felt safer, it says that will be a key focus in facilitating active travel to school.
Safety measures would include:
Pop-up pavements and crossings
Time-limited speed limits
Traffic-free school zones
Temporary traffic calming infrastructure
As schools prepare to reopen on Monday, Guernsey's Director of Public Health is reminding islanders that social distancing "remains really important".
While we have now achieved zero active cases, we cannot become complacent. However, this also presents an excellent opportunity for people to embrace active travel wherever it is possible for them to do so. Children and young people walking or cycling to school has so many benefits from a public health perspective, so I really hope lots use the capacity limitations on school buses as the perfect opportunity to do so. >