Schools Can Allot ESSER Funds to Revamp Transportation Tech – EdTech Magazine: Focus on K-12

K–12 schools saw drops in enrollment this school year, as students switched to permanently virtual options. Some districts made plans to offer fully virtual learning to students and families who opted to continue learning remotely. This shift in enrollment, combined with students quarantining…….

K–12 schools saw drops in enrollment this school year, as students switched to permanently virtual options. Some districts made plans to offer fully virtual learning to students and families who opted to continue learning remotely. This shift in enrollment, combined with students quarantining for extended periods and a shortage of bus drivers, has left some districts struggling to maintain transportation efficiency.

Technologies to improve bus efficiencies exist, but other than putting Wi-Fi hotspots on school buses last year, schools have largely not made updates to their transportation technology.

“Despite student transportation being the largest mass transit system in the U.S., the industry — and any associated processes and procedures — hasn’t changed in more than 80 years,” says Ritu Narayan, co-founder and CEO of transportation company Zum. “Technology on pretty much any level is only now getting fully incorporated.”

Now that K–12 districts have ESSER funding to spend, they can put this federal money toward integrating technology into school buses. Additionally, thousands of electric school buses heading to schools as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, which includes $5 billion for low- and zero-emissions buses.

For improved efficiency, IT leaders should work with the school’s transportation department to consider Wi-Fi for all buses in their fleet, radio-frequency ID technology and GPS tracking of routes and students.

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Wi-Fi Makes Long Student Commutes More Comfortable

Students — especially those in rural areas — face unusually long commutes. Average commute times for students taking the school bus vary by state and can range from 24 minutes in North Carolina to 47 in Arkansas, and can be even longer in more rural areas.

On top of these long commute times, families are experiencing additional delays as a result of the bus driver shortage.

While there’s no easy solution for a shortage of drivers, adding Wi-Fi to school buses can give students more time to complete homework and other assignments. “The bus ride itself becomes another learning environment,” says Akilah Willery, education strategist for CDW•G. “The kids could be studying, watching YouTube, or doing things on their phone, but they would be a lot more comfortable with a Wi-Fi connection.”

Because hotspots are connectivity solution, administrators can use ESSER or Emergency Connectivity Fund resources to upgrade their bus fleets with Wi-Fi.

RELATED: Navigate government funding for K–12 schools to optimize network health. 

RFID Technology Shows Where Students Are Boarding the Bus

Radio-frequency ID is another option for K–12 transportation teams. RFID tags could …….

Source: https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2021/11/schools-can-allot-esser-funds-revamp-transportation-tech

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