When school starts in a few weeks, bus riders in the Arlington Independent School District will notice some changes.
The district is rolling out new technology that will help them keep better track of where their buses are and who is on them.
They’re installing a system called “Zonar” on all of their buses. Each time a student gets on or off a bus, they’ll hold an ID badge up to a small scanner next to the driver.
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That will allow the district to see when and where a student boarded a bus, when and where they got off a bus, and which specific bus they rode.
Officials said that information can be vital if there’s an emergency on board the bus or if a student goes missing.
The technology also allows them to track their buses at all times and will give them a better sense of whether bus drivers are picking up and dropping off students on time.
During the school year, Arlington ISD has more than 200 buses running each day – many that serve multiple schools. District leaders are hopeful this will make a complex system easier and safer.
“We’ll know exactly where everyone is and who’s on the bus,” said Leslie Johnston, spokesperson for Arlington ISD. “It’s just a great security measure.”
The district has been already been testing the system on buses used for summer school.
“So we’ll roll it out by network within the district,” said Johnston. “It will take probably about the first semester before we get it out to all of our schools.”
The district will notify parents when Zonar rolls out at their child’s specific school and will teach the students how to use it.
High school and junior high students will scan the badges they already wear daily. Elementary school students will be given new cards.
For privacy reasons, only district administrators will be able to access the information the system provides.