Delays can happen during any type of transportation service -- especially school bus transportation. That is why it’s so important to ensure that communication flows across all users, from passengers and bus drivers to schools and district staff, to parents. Today, various types of communication can help, including smartphone apps, emails and texts, but everyone is bombarded with more information than ever before, which can make it tough to receive the correct information at the right time. Read about some of the best tips that school districts are using to keep everyone informed.
- Smartphone Apps: The biggest trend currently for many school districts across the country is to partner with a transportation provider that assists with routing and transportation planning. These companies also typically offer an app, which includes a portal for parents to see where the bus is. Schools can use these apps to send push notifications to parents, which has become popular because parents can see directly on their phones which app is sending the message and what the details of the notification are, rather than an unknown text or phone call from the school.
- Scanning Software: As part of this, many transportation providers also offer a way for students to “check in” and “check off” the bus so parents and schools can track exactly when students were on the bus. Some systems require students to scan or swipe an ID card, and others allow students to clip a charm inside of their backpack that is scanned inside the school bus doors. This can be particularly helpful for young children who may lose a card or rummage around in their backpacks to find it.
- Parental Expectation: Overall, parents are more curious and concerned than ever before about their child’s safe transportation, so it’s important to emphasize constant and specific communication with them. Parents don’t necessarily mind if a bus is five minutes late, school transportation staff have found, but they want to know the “when” and “where” of pickups and drop-offs so they can plan their days correctly.
- School Responsibility: Since not all parents will use an app, even within the schools that offer one, it’s vital for school districts to develop several ways to communicate with busy parents who may not check one particular communication medium. For instance, many schools that send out bus stop changes or bus breakdown notifications through a smartphone app will also send emails to parents about these updates. To ensure they reach all parents, schools must also provide information in the secondary languages most common to their area, particularly Spanish or French.
- Districtwide Communication: To ensure the best coordination and communication across a full transportation system, school districts are also incorporating modern two-way radios with current technology to ensure school bus drivers and transportation staff are up-to-date on road hazards, detours and bus breakdowns at all times. In Alabama, for instance, a school district uses digital two-way radios, GPS and the WAVE smartphone app to connect the schools and 150 school buses across the district.
With all of these options combined, everyone involved in the daily school bus transportation routine can stay informed.