Angry parents have hit out as children are crammed onto standing-room-only school buses that make social distancing impossible.
Images show pupils in Greater Manchester having to sit on staircases and stand in the aisles due to a lack of space on board.
Some students could also be seen sitting on luggage racks and crowding around the driver’s cab, while many were reported not to be wearing a face mask , or seen taking their covering off after they had passed the driver.
Pupils in Greater Manchester pictured crammed together while sitting on staircases, left, and in the aisles, right, while on board the Tryers Coaches Service to St Patrick’s RC High School
The pictures were taken of the 910 and 909 services from St Patrick’s RC High School in Eccles to Cadishead, which are operated by Tyrers Coaches and subsidised by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).
Government guidance states that dedicated school buses in Greater Manchester do not need to abide by the normal 1m (3’3″) social distancing rules.
The reason given for this is that ‘pupils on dedicated school services do not mix with the general public.’
But parents say crowding on board the buses undermines the measures implemented by schools to stop the spread of coronavirus.
One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said more bus services needed to be made available by TfGM to stop the issue.
She said: ‘The bus is completely overcrowded and there is a risk of Covid spreading.
‘Some kids are wearing masks, others aren’t. A teacher did come on to warn kids to keep their masks on but some just took them off afterwards.
‘In school, they are in strict bubbles but on the bus the years mix together and there’s no social distancing.
‘We need additional buses so that the kids don’t have to stand up and fall over each other.’
Alison Byrne, head teacher of St Patrick’s RC High School, said: ‘We are aware of the issue of over-crowding on the school buses and have been in liaison with Salford Local authority who have been supporting us to provide additional services; this has been communicated to parents.
Pupils waiting to board the 909 Tryers Coaches service between Cadishead and St Patrick’s RC High School in Eccles. A spokesperson said the firm was abiding by Government guidance
‘All children have been instructed on a daily basis to wear a mask on the bus and staff supervise this at the end of the school day.
‘Until a resolution is found, it may be in pupils’ best interests to find alternative transport to and from school where possible.
‘We are working in very difficult times and, as always, are doing our best to provide the best possible education and support for all our children and families.’
Another parent, whose son attends Unsworth Academy in Bury, reported similar scenes on Tuesday morning [Sept 15] at Radcliffe bus station.
He claimed that many students boarding the 524, 712 and 995 Tyrers Coaches services were not wearing a mask and had to stand on the bus.
He said: ‘I dropped my son off this morning and went to park at Lidl to do some shopping and I was astonished by what I saw.
Pupils standing on board the coach. Government guidance states that dedicated school buses in Greater Manchester do not need to abide by the normal 1m social distancing rules
‘Three buses went past and they were all absolutely packed. I saw 10 students get on one bus and only one of them was wearing a mask.’
The parent praised Unsworth Academy for their response to the pandemic, but said more needed to be done to ensure children wear face masks.
He said: ‘The school has put a lot of measures in place to have school bubbles so that if someone tests positive in that bubble they can isolate.