UPDATE: This story has been updated to correct an error that stated that Wi-Fi is now standard on all IC Bus's school buses. It is only standard on the school bus manufacturer's electric school buses for one year, but is available as an option for all of IC Bus's school buses.
All IC Bus electric school buses will now include a year of free Wi-Fi service, and the school bus manufacturer’s existing school buses can be outfitted with the technology as an option.
IC Bus and connectivity solutions supplier Kajeet have expanded their partnership to make the Kajeet SmartBus hardware and service bundle standard for one year on its electric buses and available as an option for all its other school buses, according to a news release from Kajeet and Navistar, the parent company of IC Bus.
The expanded partnership delivers the industry’s first school bus, according to IC Bus, to come standard with a comprehensive Wi-Fi solution, including hardware, software, data, and support.
“IC Bus is constantly working to stay at the forefront of safety and technology, bringing them into the school bus industry in a way that provides benefits for both students and our customers,” said Trish Reed, vice president and general manager of IC Bus. “We live in a truly connected time. Internet connection is no longer nice to have, it is nearly required.”
Reed added that IC Bus and Kajeet are offering a simple way for school districts to provide internet connectivity and all the resources that go with it to students during the bus ride.
As more schools across the U.S. prepare to reopen, the Kajeet and IC Bus partnership can empower school systems to build a more resilient educational infrastructure by ensuring equitable access to safe and reliable internet connectivity and transportation. The partnership enables the companies to deliver a safe “mobile homework zone” for students, according to the news release, helping them to take advantage of their commutes to complete assignments rather than doing them later at home.
“The shift to remote learning over the last year greatly exposed vast digital inequities among students, and those without reliable internet access are now even further behind,” said Daniel J. W. Neal, chairman, CEO, and founder of Kajeet. “Our goal with this partnership is to support school systems as they welcome students back to learn in person and to close the digital divide.”
Neal added that the partnership would “further enable student success through secure, technology-enabled school buses.”
In addition to promoting student success, Wi-Fi-enabled buses have also been found to reduce the number of behavior incidents occurring on the bus. Raytown (Mo.) School District was an early adopter of onboard Wi-Fi and was part of the SmartBus pilot program, according to Navistar and Kajeet. After having Wi-Fi connectivity available on their school buses, their number of disciplinary referrals dropped 45%.
“I was not surprised to see that when kids are busy and have something to work on, they’ll stay out of trouble,” said Kevin Easley, director of transportation for Raytown School District. “I was shocked at the anecdotal and data reports of how much better it was, though. I wasn’t expecting those kinds of numbers.”
Kajeet’s SmartBus solution is provisioned on Sentinel, its Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)-compliant Internet of Things management platform. Beyond Wi-Fi, Sentinel provides administrators with visibility into data usage on all connected devices as well as educator-specified mobile policy controls, content blocking, and website filtering to ensure students stay safe and on track. The platform is compatible with all major U.S. carriers, according to Kajeet and Navistar.