Leveraging School Bus Technologies To Support Parents During The Coronavirus Outbreak
published on January 12, 2021 by Sonia Mastros
It's hard to even list all the ways that the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is affecting communities across America. Many of these problems center on schools and school districts. On one hand, the rational response to a disease outbreak is to limit in-person school sessions, reducing disease exposure. On the other hand, many parents rely on schooling for the services it provides, including reduced-price lunches, and providing care for students while the parents are at work.
There are no easy answers here, but there are ways that schools can leverage their infrastructure - such as school bus technology investments - to make life a little easier. Here are a few of the solutions we've seen schools utilizing across the country.
Four Ways District Resources and School Bus Technology Can Be Used To Support Families
1. Food Deliveries
Millions of families across the country rely on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) to provide free or low-cost meals for their children, reducing their food costs. However, if schools aren't in session, these meals are seemingly unavailable - increasing their financial burden at a time that many are out of work.
Some schools, such as those in Decatur, Georgia, are turning their school buses into food delivery systems! This is a great way to ensure struggling families get the assistance they need, by taking low-cost lunches directly to students even if they aren't at school.
2. Mobile WiFi Hotspots
In previous years, it became increasingly common for schools to install WiFi in their buses for students to use while riding. Now, these systems can be turned to a new purpose: providing Internet access to families without other options. Strategically placing buses in areas where families are in need allows them access to this vital resource. It can also be an excellent way to expand the reach of remote learning options to students who might not otherwise have access.
3. Communications Networks
Chances are, your district already has software solutions for networking and communication with parents - but are you making good use of them? These systems can be a vital link between the school and families, keeping them updated on the latest initiatives and methods of providing the needed assistance. Get as many people in your district connected as possible!
4. Smart Bus Routing and Tracking
Of course, if you're using your buses for deliveries, WiFi, and other services, you need to be able to keep track of them. Don't forget that GPS systems and bus routing software can be put to other uses! You could easily create a custom "bus route" of families who need food aid or locations where WiFi hotspots will be most useful.
Has your district discovered other creative ways to leverage your school bus technology to support families during the outbreak? Please share your tips with us!