Social distancing and schools - Southampton

As part of the preparation process of returning to education, both families and schools will need to consider and plan for a range of new normals.

The journey to and arrival at school is just one element but nevertheless very important in ensuring social distancing, safety and a reduction in traffic and parked cars, where possible. Schools will, of course, be considering how they manage social distancing within the school grounds. They may be considering staggering start and finish times which would affect the arrival and departure of children.

Whilst this may help with reducing some of the congestion, below are some further ideas that schools can consider implementing, and we would welcome you sharing with us anything you have already tried that has also worked well:

Ideas to support social distancing on and near school sites

  1. One-way pedestrian flow: If the site has more than one access point, consider creating a one-way system with “Entrance Only” and “Exit Only” points for families. Could you open up any access points that may have previously been closed off to maximise permeability and flows to the site?
  2. Creation of additional access points: Subject to an appropriate risk assessment, consider using the staff car as additional access point for walkers and/or bike users to dilute those entering/exiting the usual pedestrian/bike access points. Note: this would need careful consideration and would require manning and ensuring that vehicles will not be arriving or departing during these times, and that families can still access a footpath/cycleway when leaving the school site.
  3. Management of pedestrian flows onto site: Provide a member of school staff on each access point to control people coming in and out. If one-way systems can’t be achieved, consider having a temporary barrier for people to wait behind as people are permitted to come on to site or are leaving. 
  4. Management of pedestrian flows off site: If there are footways on either side of the access roads to the school, consider if they could be used for different directions of pedestrian/cycle traffic to avoid two way flows on one footway, if it is safe to do so.
  5. Wrap around care capacities: Consider extending / increasing capacity of before and/or after school clubs
  6. Reduce numbers coming to site: For older children, ask parents if they would allow their child to walk the last part of their journey independently, but only if it’s safe to do so.
  7. Cycling / scooting policies: Indicate to families where they must dismount bikes or scooters as they approach the school to avoid congestion / collision. If you require adjusted arrangements for the storage of scooters or bikes on site, ensure you make this clear to families and post appropriate signage around the school site.
  8. Provision of transport: If a school minibus and trained staff are available, consider providing a shuttle service for those with no alternatives available.

Supporting Active Travel

In addition to managing the volumes of families arriving at school at the same time, active travel is also a key tool for many schools in reducing the number of cars in the vicinity of the school. This, in turn, supports social distancing and makes it a safer place to be. It is also beneficial to the health and wellbeing of children and their families, as well as to the air that we all breathe.

Many families have already been walking, cycling and scooting more whilst the roads have been quieter and as part of their daily exercise. Over the next few weeks and months, it is an ideal opportunity for families to consider their journey to school, and whether they could travel actively for some or all of the route, or even look at an alternative route that maybe quieter and less congested.

My Journey Transition Time

The My Journey team is able to work with schools to promote active travel, where it’s safe and possible to do so, through a range of resources and support, for example:

If you would like support with any of the above, please contact the team. Many of our existing resources, and those of our partners Living Streets and Sustrans, can also be viewed on our website.

Please direct parents to our Parents Page which has lots of information on social distancing, wellbeing activities, active travel and cycling skills.


Modeshift STARS Walking Bubbles

If you work with us on Modeshift STARS, you can follow our new training film on setting up a 5-minute Walking Bubble as part of their #StaySafeGetActive campaign.

If your school is not currently working on STARS but would like to create a walking bubble map, simply follow the link and register your school. It's free to all schools in England.


Sustrans has put together the below useful guides to help schools and families enjoy a safer, more spacious environment on the school run:

Sustrans Back to School Guide for Schools


Other social distancing support available from SCC

Of course, for some schools, the suggestions above may not be sufficient to enable social distancing, due to a range of factors. The council is therefore able to provide additional support in a number of ways:

  • Should you need temporary physical improvements / measures to enable social distancing on key routes to school, you can identify these issues via an online tool called Commonplace. It’s very simple to stick a pin in the location of concern, select the description of the issue, how much of an issue it is for social distancing and what solution would make a difference. These will then be considered alongside other comments/suggestions put forward across the city. To access the tool, please click here.
  • Please visit the council's transport website to find out about temporary transport schemes being introduced to support social distancing while encouraging active travel.
  • Maintenance matters on your routes to school, such as damaged footpaths, potholes, blocked drains, broken or damaged street lights or signs can all be reported online.
  • Overgrown vegetation obstructing the road or footpath here.
  • Issues with dog fouling, broken glass, or fly tipping can be reported here.