Despite the unprecedented and widespread impact of COVID-19, the school transportation industry continues to show its resilience and dedication to students, from providing daily meal delivery service to deploying the big yellow bus as a technology tool in some communities.
Starting Tuesday, Bedford County (Va.) Public Schools will expand its meal delivery service to include breakfast and lunch deliveries to some of its elementary school bus stops. The district initially opened nine school sites for meal distribution on March 18, according to a news release from the district. Those curbside pickup sites reportedly served over 6,000 meals to more than 3,000 students last week, the district said in a post on its Facebook page.
In Kinston, N.C., Lenoir County Public Schools is conducting similar efforts to ensure students have meals during the COVID-19 crisis.
On Monday, Lenoir County Public Schools expanded its meal distribution at five school sites to include deliveries at 20 school bus stops in the community. The district provided more than 10,300 meals through the five school sites over four days last week, according to a post on the district’s website.
“Our goal is to reach as many students as possible, including those whose families may not be able to get to our five cafeteria sites every day,” said Danelle Smith, Lenoir County Public Schools’ child nutrition director. “The district’s transportation department and bus drivers stepped up without hesitation to make this delivery service possible.”
Meanwhile, in Oregon, McMinnville School District’s bus drivers and staff are going the extra mile when delivering meals to students.
Karin Nichols, one of the district’s kitchen managers, said in a video posted on the district’s website, that students and parents were cheering on the first day of meal delivery services, which began on March 16.
“There were about 40 students and parents in the street cheering as we came by, and what a feeling that was. In fact, I started to tear up,” she said. “I just want to say what a wonderful feeling it is to work for a school district that we are all here for the kids.”
On the second day of McMinnville School District’s meal delivery service, Janet Coffman, one of the district’s bus drivers, set out a box of children’s books so students could find something that would entertain them and maintain their reading skills during the school closures, according to Yamhill News Register.
School transportation industry suppliers are also coming to the aid of school districts during the COVID-19 crisis, providing new technology and software solutions.
Tyler Technologies announced on Monday that school districts using the company’s Traversa routing software will be able to add Traversa Ride 360 for parent communication to their operation free of charge until June 23.
Through this mobile application, districts can facilitate communication with the families they serve and help ensure access to information about food drop-off points or similar means of transportation-based assistance, according to Tyler. Users can get updates via notifications or through integrated tools within the Traversa routing solution.
Meanwhile, tech startup Transportant is working with school districts to use the company’s platform, which uses video-based technology to allow students, parents, and school administrators to better monitor school buses assisting in operations, according to Startland News.
John Styers, co-founder of Transportant, told the newspaper that districts are looking to use the platform to provide “moving study halls” for students in need of internet access and to assist in the routing and planning for meal distribution.