Zonar's COVID-19 Return to School Safety Solutions is a suite of compliance resources and...

Zonar's COVID-19 Return to School Safety Solutions is a suite of compliance resources and configurable software that can help establish new safety protocols for pupil transporters.

File photo

Smart fleet technology supplier Zonar is offering safety resources designed to help pupil transporters when schools resume in-person instruction amid the pandemic.

Zonar created COVID-19 Return to School Safety Solutions, a suite of dedicated compliance resources and configurable software solutions that can help establish new COVID-19 safety protocols for school bus drivers, students, and fleet managers. It can also help fleet managers and drivers create more touchless experiences, address student tracking, ensure verified sanitization of buses, aid in contact tracing, and find funding options.

One of the biggest challenges pupil transporters will face, according to a news release from Zonar, is adjusting working conditions and adopting new safety practices to reinforce parent, staff, and driver confidence in school bus transportation. Providing a safer and technologically-enhanced environment is a crucial step for these operations to return to normalcy, according to the fleet technology supplier.

"Providing safe transportation in the current COVID-19 world will require a fundamental change in the way drivers and officials comply with safety guidelines," said H. Kevin Mest, senior vice president and general manager of passenger services at Zonar. "There is no one way to deal with the devastating effects of the pandemic on school transportation. Creating an environment that protects everyone will require discipline and access to customizable technologies like those Zonar developed to address a fleet’s changing requirements."

Zonar’s COVID-19 Return to School Safety Solutions can help schools meet the unique and varying needs of their student population as they return to classes. They combine Zonar’s support with pupil transportation offerings that utilize existing infrastructure, help reduce physical touchpoints, ensure sanitization of buses, and aid in contact tracing.

The solutions include tools that help pupil transportation providers:

•    Design their new normal with resources. Zonar’s Safety and Compliance team, comprised of industry veterans, can help schools stay up to date with regulatory and national/state/local guidance, safety standards, regularly updated resources from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), free webinars and one-on-one advice for schools around compliance and regulations through an easy-to-use form. This is in addition to Zonar’s 24/7/365 customer success team.

•    Find ways to fund their COVID-19 school transportation initiatives. School transportation providers that are facing a shortfall for fleet management technology can ask Zonar’s professionals about grant opportunities, such as the Don Carnahan Memorial Grant and its partnership with Learn Design Apply Inc. Zonar can also connect customers with grant writing experts who offer professional assistance from research to project implementation.

•    Standardize and electronically verify cleaning protocols. To help ensure buses are properly sanitized, Zonar’s patented Electronic Verified Inspection Reporting (EVIR) solution has a new, electronically verifiable configuration that helps school officials ensure the cleanliness and sanitization of buses according to CDC guidelines.

•    Support contact tracing with digital rider visibility. Zonar provides Z Pass, a contactless, card-based rider verification solution allowing schools to identify who rode which bus and when so that if a rider tests positive for COVID-19, school officials can quickly notify the driver and parents about the potential exposure.

•    Verify right student, right bus, right stop. With many schools switching to a staggered schedule, Zonar Verify prevents students from getting on the wrong bus or off at the wrong stop. With assistance from the contactless, card-based Z Pass, students scan entry and exit from the bus, and Verify automatically confirms from the daily routing information that it’s the right student, right bus, and right stop.

•    Keep parents and caregivers informed about their child’s bus location. The Zonar MyView app helps parents locate their child’s bus, customize alerts, and share and manage access with authorized caregivers. Plus, districts can utilize the back-end portal to communicate bus changes or COVID-related updates to the parent’s phone.

•    Update Cummins engines — no mechanic, no cost, no contact. With Zonar OTAir, fleet managers and maintenance workers can update their buses’ engine control units remotely and safely through their phone in as little as five minutes for less downtime, and exposure.

Learn more about the Zonar COVID-19 Return to School Safety Solutions