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Posted on 9 October 2020

Transport

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2-10-2020

COVID-19 Safety Measures Pertaining to School Buses and Transit

Belgian Authorities require that specific measures be applied to all school transit and transport as of September 2020. These measures are designed to ensure the highest possible level of safety during transit to and from school, and forestall the spread  of COVID-19 : they include a mix of social distancing, cleaning, and protective behaviours.

1/ GENERAL RULES ON HOW TO BEHAVE DURING THE HEALTH CRISIS

  • Keep abreast of a fast-evolving situation. Use the usual public information channels, such as COCOM (https://www.ccc-ggc.brussels/fr), commune administration communications, SPF Public Health (https://www.health.belgium.be/fr). Heed and abide by all safety instructions communicated by the Belgian Authorities. Do not volunteer your own ideas or your own initiatives. A toll-free ‘Green Number’ is available for your questions at: 0800/22.000.
  • Inform and/or report to all relevant staff and personnel to help prevent the further spread of the pandemic, both within the school premises and outside, especially as regards cleanliness and hygiene issues.
  • Keep all parents informed of all decisions taken by your department as the situation evolves. In particular, should the necessity arise, a renewed period of lockdown may have to be considered.
  • Ensure that all the measures that aim at ensuring cleanliness and hygiene are well-known, continually improved, and heeded at all times by all. These measures include, but are not limited to : wear a face mask, observe social distancing, wash hands with soap for at least 30 seconds, cough or sneez into one’s elbow and then wash hands again, and dispose of used paper tissues into an appropriate disposal bin only.
  • Always ensure and control that common surfaces are kept properly cleaned at all times.
  • Communicate with and confirm to your Establishment’s Health Service which measures are in force, and keep them informed of any difficulty you might experience in applying such.
  • All APEEE personnel are currently in the process of signing a sworn statement, confirming that the health measures imposed by the Belgian Authorities are being fully complied with.
  • All personnel working for or on behalf of APEEE are conforming to all requisite safety rules, which include wearing a face mask and regularly washing hands.

Specifically, the following rules apply onboard school buses:

2/ SAFETY RULES IN FORCE DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN COLOR-CODE YELLOW, AS OF SEPTEMBER 2020

  • A procedure is in place upon both boarding and getting off the bus, ensuring that social distancing rules are upheld, both between passengers and with respect to drivers and any proctors or accompanying staff.
  • Social distancing must be upheld as much as possible whenever passengers leave their seats. Therefore, only one passenger, whether getting on or off the bus, may stand at any given time. Children will be enjoined by the accompanying proctors and/or the driver to refrain from horseplay or skylarking and to avoid physical contacts.
  • All driving and accompanying staff (drivers, proctors) must wear a face mask throughout the ride and when present on school grounds.
  • All secondary pupils must wear a face mask at all times when on the bus. Under applicable Belgian law, face masks are mandatory whenever in a coach or public transit vehicle. They constitute an essential safety measure aimed at protecting both the other students on the bus, the driver, and any staff present on board. (Note to parents : please ensure that you remind your children to wear their face masks : secondary school pupils who fail to do so will lose their permission to use the bus service.)
  • Primary and nursery pupils are not bound to wear face masks on board the buses, yet it is highly recommended that they do so.
  • (Note for parents : Please provide your children with face masks. Secondary pupils without a mask shall not be allowed onto the bus. If needed, a face mask may be provided, which will be invoiced to parents at € 1 for the first time, and then € 5 every time after that.)
  • If the bus has two separate doors, both boarding and getting off the bus shall occur through the rear
  • If the bus has only one (front) door, the proctors, or the driver should no proctors be present, shall exit the bus first and let passengers get on or off the bus before getting back on board.
  • Primary and nursery pupils must sit in the forward (front) section of the bus. Secondary pupils shall sit aft.
  • Siblings may be seated together. Siblings variously in secondary, primary and nursery may still sit together, whenever possible in the midsection of the bus.
  • Pupils are bound to abide by the seat numbers attributed to them. As a rule, pupils must always occupy the same seat.
  • Buses are carefully and thoroughly cleaned with disinfectants as per the stipulations of the COVID protocol that all bus companies must sign.
  • Disinfectant gel dispensers are available at the bus parking entrance. Proctors also carry gel for use on board buses

3/ SAFETY RULES IN FORCE DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN COLOR-CODES ORANGE and RED, AS OF SEPTEMBER 2020

In addition to all of the above Yellow Code safety rules, the following also apply:

  • Getting on and off buses is regulated so as to avoid passengers getting too near to one another, as well as too near to drivers and any proctors.
  • Social Distancing must be maintained as much as possible during passenger movements. Therefore, only one passenger, whether getting on or off the bus, may stand at any given time. Children will be enjoined by the accompanying proctors and/or the driver to refrain from horseplay or skylarking and to avoid physical contacts. Wherever there are several passengers, a distance of 1.5m must be maintained between them.

4/ RULES SPECIFIC TO BUS COMPANIES AND TO DRIVERS

A reminder of the binding rules which apply to drivers :

  • Drivers must wear a face mask throughout the ride and whenever present within school grounds
  • If the bus has two doors, getting on and off the bus shall occur through the rear door
  • If there is only one door, the accompanying proctors, or drivers if no proctors or other staff are present, will first get off the bus and let the passengers board or exit, before they get back on board.
  • The full convention protocol for bus companies is attached (addendum)

5/ ACCOMPANYING PERSONNEL ON BOARD

  • Accompanying personnel are seated at the back of the bus and/or move about in the bus to ensure that all pupils are correctly seated. They must ensure that pupils use their assigned seat number every time.

6/ RULES AND HEALTH RULES PERTAINING TO THE PARKING AREA

  • Upon arrival, the pupils seated at the back are the first to leave the bus via the rear door. Accompanying staff must ensure that order and social distancing be properly maintained when exiting the bus.
  • Disinfecting gel and spare face masks are also available to APEEE staff in the booth.
  • Gel dispensers are available at the bus parking area entrance.
  • The social distance of 1.5m applies within the parking area as well.
  • Measures will be in place to ensure the smooth flow of circulation and prevent any thronging or bottlenecks during access to the parking area

7/ IF AND WHEN A CASE OF PUPIL INFECTION IS SUSPECTED

  • In case of a suspected case within a class: the School shall abide by the Case Management Protocol stipulated in document 7713 of Wallonie-Bruxelles (attached).
  • When a pupil develops symptoms for the first time when on board a bus:
    • Accompanying staff must isolate the child at least 1.5m away from the other children, if at all possible.
    • Accompanying staff will provide the child with a new mask and disinfectant gel.
    • The Transit Office shall be notified immediately by accompanying staff and the child will be handed over to an EEB2 proctor, who will take the child to the infirmary.

Upon arriving at School, the School shall abide by the Case Management Protocol as stipulated in document 7713 of Wallonie-Bruxelles (attached).

Should a pupil develop symptoms before boarding or upon boarding a bus in the afternoon: a School proctor shall take the child to the infirmary or to School management. Thereafter, the School shall abide by the Case Management Protocol as stipulated in document 7713 of Wallonie-Bruxelles (attached).

Should a pupil develop symptoms after the afternoon bus has left:

  • Accompanying staff must isolate the child at least 1.5m away from the other children, if at all possible.
  • Accompanying staff will provide the child with a new mask and disinfectant gel.
  • Accompanying staff must immediately notify the Transit Office
  • The Transit Office will then contact the parents to inform them
  • The pupil is then handed over to the parents or as the case may be goes home

Note : The test results shall not be communicated to the parents of the pupils who use the same bus as the suspected case, in conformity with the Case Management Protocol (document 7713).

COCOM (https://www.ccc-ggc.brussels/fr)  deems school transit a weaker contamination risk, therefore the presence of a case or suspected case shall not automatically lead to the isolation of the other pupils on the bus. However, APEEE shall notify the parents of pupils taking the same bus that they should watch out closely for possible symptoms with their children.

Note : This document shall be updated should any further measures be taken by either the Belgian Authorities or School management.

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