The survey, commissioned by Zonar and conducted by The Harris Poll, finds that 75% of parents want greater visibility into their child’s school bus journey, receiving real-time updates via their mobile phones. - File photo courtesy Queen Creek (Ariz.) Unified School District #95

The survey, commissioned by Zonar and conducted by The Harris Poll, finds that 75% of parents want greater visibility into their child’s school bus journey, receiving real-time updates via their mobile phones.

File photo courtesy Queen Creek (Ariz.) Unified School District #95

With the return to in-person learning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new national study finds that nearly three in four parents (75%) want greater visibility into their child’s journey to and from school on the bus.

The study, commissioned by Zonar and conducted by The Harris Poll, received responses from 564 U.S. parents with child(ren) under the age of 18, according to a news release from Zonar.

The smart fleet technology supplier commissioned the study to better understand parents’ sentiment about school bus transportation safety in light of the pandemic and beyond.

“From the minute they leave the bus stop and arrive at school, to the moment they’re back home, parents are looking for better visibility into their child's school bus journey,” said H. Kevin Mest, senior vice president of passenger services at Zonar. “For 20 years, we have focused on the health and safety on school buses as our top priority — we understand the logistical challenges of transporting precious cargo and the concerns parents have with the return to in-person learning. With today’s expectations and the ongoing need for accurate information, we also empathize with parents who lean on school transportation to make their lives a little easier.”

Key takeaways from the study include:

  • Vehicle health, driver focus, and safe driving practices are priorities: 72% of parents agree the school bus is a safe and reliable option for student transportation to and/or from school.
  • Parents have a need for timely updates on their child’s location: 76% of parents wish they could track their child’s transportation to and from school and get updates via their mobile phones. 51% want access to real-time school bus information in the event of an emergency. 50% want timely communication about transportation schedules and drop-off/pick-up details.
  • School districts must invest in bus technology to keep up with current safety precautions: 42% of parents want greater investments in safety procedures for school buses.
  • Parents want COVID-19 precautions on the school bus: 46% of parents want investments in sanitation. 41% want health screening questionnaires for school bus drivers. 38% want contact tracing information for students that ride the school bus.

Over the last decade, districts have deployed mobile applications that provide parents with ridership alerts and visibility into the rider and bus location for greater transparency and peace of mind.  

With COVID-19 spreading rapidly among children, parents and community members in close proximity to schools should have some comfort that districts are deploying electronically verified sanitization and cleaning procedures as well as touchless solutions to protect drivers and student riders. By recording the date, time, and school ID number of every student rider, districts know who rode which bus and when. In the event a rider or someone close to them tests positive for COVID-19, the appropriate driver and parents can be quickly notified regarding potential exposure.

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