Bay County students will notice a few additions in their school buses when they head back to class next Tuesday. The district invested more than $300,000 in new technology on each bus.
Earlier this summer, every bus was outfitted with a new camera and global positioning system, and this week, Transportation Director Bob Downin unveiled the Zonar Z-Pass Student Tracking System.
"There will be a scanner on the side as you walk up the stairs on the bus. There will be a beep and there will be a light that flashes on the left hand side," said Downin, describing what students will notice when they get on the bus.
The new technology will help bus drivers and transportation officials quickly and easily track pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students entering and leaving a bus.
"Let's say a student gets lost. They don't get off at their stop We'll be able to go to the computer. We can see what bus they got on, what time they got on, and if they are still on that bus. If they are not, we can tell what time they got off that bus and at what location they got off the bus."
Each student will be issued a colored card depending on which school they attend and what bus they ride. When they board the bus, they won't have to swipe or scan the card like a credit card. They just need to have the card on them, such as attached to a backpack or in a pocket.
"We're suggesting they put it on their backpack, so when they pick up their backpack and they go to school, that card is there. They don't even have to think about it."
What if your child loses their card?
"The bus driver will have a clipboard, and he'll write down that student, all that information before he continues on the bus so we even have safeguards so if for some reason they don't have their card."
Downin expects there to be some bugs and issues in the new system. They're going to test it in just two schools for the first few weeks and then extend it to the other schools.
He also mentioned bus drivers and substitute drivers will be wearing uniforms this year. They'll likely wear a polo with Bay District Schools embroidered on it.