Every single mile from the first to the last, there is a focused need for safety. With districts facing unprecedented shortages of bus drivers and the effects of the pandemic, being able to know where our students are is paramount.
Crosswalk K-12 and student ridership are revolutionizing student transportation. The “New Normal” in this case means that districts can leverage technology to reliably enhance student safety.
Student ridership is centered around the safety of our students. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCEMC), 460,000 children in the U.S. are reported missing every year (2021). The NCMEC further states that a child goes missing in the U.S. every 90 seconds. However, both law enforcement and independent agencies agree that the use and advancement of technology continue to lower these numbers every year. Crosswalk K-12 and student ridership are an intricate part of the technological solutions that increase student safety and serve as a deterrent.
Student ridership also provides bus drivers with accurate facial recognition of students, their assigned buses, precise address, exact bus stops for pick-ups and drop-offs, and ensures that the students who should be on a specific bus are the correct students. The added benefit of student ridership is it helps both new drivers and substitute drivers to efficiently learn the route. Also, it helps prevent students from boarding the wrong bus or getting dropped off at the wrong stop. In addition, there are detailed reports of when and where students boarded the bus, and this information is shared with the administrative office in real-time and can be accessed via PC or mobile devices.
Every school district must contend with balancing its budget against meeting the demands placed on the district. The need for limiting cost without mitigating the safety and service offered to its students is another area of concern for school districts. However, solutions like student tracking and student ridership provide the technology tools to address those needs while remaining within the confines of a district's budget.
The ability to mitigate operational costs is more vital than ever, especially when we consider a district’s annual fuel costs. For example, a diesel school bus that travels 8.5 miles per gallon over a distance of 12,000 miles will cost approximately $6,225.88 to fuel for the year. Therefore, it is paramount that school districts leverage technologies like student ridership and student tracking to alleviate bus stop errors, excessive idle time, route errors, and student misplacement.
Aside from the operational cost savings, student tracking means knowing when your child is on the bus, which bus they are on, where they were dropped off, and through the app, a parent or child will know when the bus is approaching their stop.
This negates the need for students to wait out in the cold, dark, rain, or for an undetermined amount of time for the bus to arrive. Student ridership and student tracking ensures transportation safety for every student, efficiency for school districts, and peace of mind for parents.
Although a school district’s budget is a close comparison to a high wire juggling act without a safety net. Schools are routinely tasked with doing more with less. The current pandemic placed this analogy on an elevated pedestal accompanied by a spotlight. However, like always, our school districts were equal to the task and found a way to keep their commitments to their respective communities.
Accountability to our students and their parents is the focus of every school district. The utilization of technology like student ridership and student tracking demonstrates a district’s commitment to safety and service. Transporting students safely, timely, and keeping parents informed is a monumental task. This is exacerbated by limited access to much-needed resources and frequent driver shortages.
Premier Wireless understands these challenges and we realize that failure is not an option because of what is at stake; our future. We know that the responsibility to the parents and the students in their custody and care is a district’s top priority. It is this level of care, responsibility, and accountability that motivated the creation of Crosswalk K-12 and its featured solutions student ridership and student tracking.
Driver shortages are universal across all industries. However, for school districts, the importance of these critical positions is magnified by the importance of their transports, i.e., students. Being the son of a former bus driver, I remember my father telling me about the added stresses of the position. He would say that you had to deal with the weather, students switching seats, getting in the aisles, occasional fights, and sometimes getting sick. In essence, the job required the driver to be a student counselor, nurse, and mediator, all while maintaining focus on student safety, the road, and other driving hazards.
With such an important job that affects the very fabric of a school district’s functionality, developing new ways to retain their drivers is essential. The features of student ridership and student tracking provide benefits that will lower the stress level of your drivers.
Through this solution, a driver can easily identify each student by name and face. This inherently reduces uncertainty and it gives the student a sense of comfort that the driver acknowledges them as a person and not a student number. Student tracking and student ridership also increases the accuracy of student drop-offs and student pick-ups by ensuring the correct student is getting on the bus or off the bus at the correct stop.
School bus drivers are human and the vast majority of them chose this career path because they genuinely care about our students. Therefore, with this care comes added stress induced by worrying about student safety. However, one way that could help alleviate some of these stresses is by acknowledging them and the outstanding work they do. The benefit of this appreciation will lead to higher driver retention. One of the ways a school district can provide such recognition is through a rewards or incentive programs.
The student ridership program offers real-time data that is empirical by nature and could provide the tools a district needs to accurately assess a driver’s performance.
Another critical benefit afforded by student tracking and student ridership is its ability to significantly contribute to the mitigation of the spread of COVID. These benefits involve the use of the location data provided by student tracking to assist with contact tracing, which is proven to be an effective method of controlling the spread of the virus.
The overall benefit of the use of student tracking, in this scenario, is it drastically reduces contact tracing time and increases the accuracy of contact tracing. Furthermore, it allows those who are possibly exposed to be informed quicker and at times, it alerts those who otherwise may not know until it's too late.
The need for more effective and accurate contact tracing is vital in keeping your students safe, your drivers safe, your administrators safe, and your families safe. The added benefit is it helps with driver retention. This is critical now more than ever, especially when there are numerous reports of drivers dying from COVID exposure, including a report by Kaiser Health News that states that school bus drivers in at least 10 states have died of the disease as of August 2021. Sadly, these numbers are not complete without any central government repository, according to the National Education Association.
Student ridership and student tracking is technology being leveraged to enhance safety, provide peace of mind to parents, demonstrate a district's commitment to accountability and reliability to the community, and be an effective method of retaining drivers by making their jobs easier while enhancing their effectiveness.
According to The Harris Poll of 564 U.S. (Sept. 2021), approximately 33% of parents rely on school bus transportation 100% of the time, and 76% of parents want a better way to track their kids to and from school and receive notifications via mobile app. With parents currently demanding the use of solutions like student ridership and student tracking, your district cannot afford to wait.