Student Tracking: Improving Safety on and off the School Bus
published on November 10, 2017 by Sonia Mastros
Is it time to consider student tracking systems? For an increasing number of school districts, the answer is yes. Student tracking, such as through RFID systems, offers many distinct benefits in terms of both safety and streamlined administration, with relatively few drawbacks.
How RFID Tracking Works
RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) chips are tiny radio receivers\transmitters, roughly the size of a grain of rice, which can be fit into easily carried objects such as ID badges. They carry very little information onboard, usually just an ID number which is then matched to a particular person in a database. When they come within range of a radio-based reader tuned to the right frequency for that RFID chip, it identifies itself and is registered as having passed that reader.
The active range for an RFID chip is extremely small, ranging from a few feet to -at most- a few hundred feet. This makes them ideal for tracking student movements around a campus, without infringing upon their privacy off-campus.
The Benefits of RFID Tracking for Schools
The most obvious benefit, of course, is that a school will always know which students are on-campus and have a pretty good idea of where they are - within a hundred feet or so. This makes it far more difficult to lose track of students, particularly during chaotic activities such as fire drills where students may actively try to leave campus during the confusion.
However, there are many benefits beyond that. They include:
- Actively tracking bus ridership. RFID readers on each bus make it simple to know who's riding on a given day. This takes pressure off your driver to track riders.
- Better attendance tracking. Both administration and affected teachers can be notified ahead of time if a student failed to get on a bus in the morning.
- Easier follow-ups in cases of students going truant. A student failing to get on the bus could trigger an administrative alert to call their parents ASAP to check up on them.
- The same is true for mid-school truancy. Students can't pass through exterior doors without it being logged. Or, for example, off-campus lunch breaks can be computer-monitored to verify every student has returned by their next class period.
- More evidence for disciplinary scenarios. RFID makes it much easier to prove\disprove a student's presence someplace where rulebreaking occurred.
- Being able to quickly locate a student in case of emergency, without having to resort to disruptive school-wide PA announcements.
Despite some hyperbole in the press, RFID presents very little threat to a student's privacy. After all, they have very little expectation of privacy in their movements while on-campus. And in the meantime, you get many new tools to help keep them safe.
What has your district done whenit comes to student tracking? Are there specific pros and cons that you feel should be addressed? Please let us know below.