By Dedra Cordle
The South-Western City School District has over 12,700 students who ride the bus, and nearly all of them hate waiting at their stop in the morning.
Although they may be fine standing in the elements when it is lighter outside and the conditions are on the right side of comfortable, the irritation starts to boil over when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Instead of wondering whether they should skip school that day or pretend to have seen their bus go by in order to hitch a ride with members of their family, they will now be able to access an app that sends notifications to their smart devices when their transport has pulled into a specified area.
On Nov. 28, the district will launch a new planning tool called StopFinder which will allow parents and guardians to receive real-time information on where their child’s school bus is in proximity to their home address.
According to Evan Debo, the district’s executive director of communications, this app has the capability to reduce the time spent out in the harsh elements, thus making the student’s life and the lives of their family members run a bit more smoothly in the hectic morning hours.
The district has started to send out emails regarding the new software tool to families through the most current address provided in the Infinite Campus Parent Portal. The invitation to the registered users will give directions on how parents and guardians can download the secure app, and it will show them how the app works so they can curate the bus tracking notifications to their specificity.
Another key feature of the StopFinder App is that it allows parents and guardians to be able to share the child’s bus tracking data with other trusted adults, such as providers of care after school.
Through the official app, additional information will be displayed on how parents and guardians can set up the route sharing feature. It will also show how to rescind that access if necessary. Debo said the district will leave that decision on whether other adults should have access to a student’s bus location to the parents and guardians.
Not everyone who has a smartphone, a smartwatch, or a table has to opt-in as this new planning tool is voluntary. And those who may be interested in the app but would like to take a “wait and see” approach can still download the app after the initial launch on Nov. 28.
As it stands right now, the app will not be able to notify parents and guardians on whether the bus is running late – the district will continue to provide that information as it is currently performed – but Debo hopes that will be a feature on a future version of the app.
The district has created a frequently asked questions page on its blog at swinsider.com for more information and troubleshooting solutions.