Published: 13:46, 15 September 2020
| Updated: 15:06, 15 September 2020
A picture showing school children crowded around bus stops has sparked concerns about a lack of social distancing being enforced.
The pupils were photographed next to buses at the Hundred of Hoo Academy in Hoo in a snap which was shared widely across social media platforms.
It has been confirmed buses were running late on the day in question – which is understood to have been one day last week – and the school has now extended the Covid-secure protocols which were already in place.
School leaders have quickly moved to take action to ensure the scenario with late buses does not repeat itself including using a holding area in the playground to prevent overcrowding.
The photo was posted on Snapchat and Facebook with the sarcastic caption "great social distancing" but the majority of the pupils in the area are visibly wearing masks.
The school, run by the Leigh Academies Trust, says pupils were gathered in their "year group bubbles" and staff were overseeing the situation.
The academy in Main Road, Hoo is also in talks with Medway Council and bus company Arriva about avoiding a similar situation.
"Since this photo was taken we have been liaising with the local authority and the bus company to avoid this scenario..."
Trust spokesman Richard Taylor said: "Since returning to school in September the academy has put extensive measures in place to ensure that the school is Covid-secure in line with the guidance issued by the Department of Education.
"The photograph taken last week was an isolated incident that was caused by several buses arriving late which meant that students were waiting in larger numbers than usual.
"While in the bus lane students always wear face coverings and were supported to wait within their year group ‘bubbles’ by members of Academy staff.
"Since this photo was taken we have been liaising with the local authority and the bus company to avoid this scenario from occurring again.
"To prevent students from having to rush to board the bus we have asked the bus company to allow an increased boarding time.
"We have also put in place a process to move students to a holding area in the playground where a bus is running late to prevent overcrowding within the bus lane.
Bus companies are running dedicated school bus services with social distancing guidelines and face coverings mandatory for all children travelling to and from school.
In a statement, Arriva moved to reassure parents all school buses "are working in line with government guidelines".
It added: "Students should socially distance on the bus, if there is space to do so, if not, students can use all the available capacity on the bus, as they would pre-Covid.
"Social distancing still applies when boarding and alighting, with non-exempt students over 11 required to wear a face-covering."
Parents raised similar concerns with Stagecoach after pictures emerged of a very busy bus in Canterbury.