As more Hampton Roads students return to school, technology helps track buses

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Posted at 4:02 AM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 06:40:51-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – Chesapeake Public Schools is making some adjustments to the technology on its bus fleet.

The district reports that it has 591 buses. All of them are equipped with GPS and other tools through a company called Zonar. The tracking has recently been upgraded to include live capabilities.

“Zonar is extremely helpful in our daily operational tasks - not only for being able to track the bus and know where the bus is physically located during its route, but it also giving us some diagnostic data to prevent delays on the bus,” explained David Benson, Director of Transportation for Chesapeake Public Schools.

And while the district can keep a close eye on the tracking, it has held off on implementing a tracking app for parents because COVID-19 restrictions have changed a lot of the bus routes.

“Because our routes aren’t being driven every day the way they were designed, the app would give bad data. So, in some cases, this bad data would cause more confusion for parents,” Benson stated. “They would see that the bus is close by and they’d think, ‘I missed the bus because it passed by my house,' when in reality, it was going to school to drop kids off and it’s going to come back and picking up where it left off."

Benson said once routes become more consistent, they will pursue getting an app for parents and students.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools has a GPS app called Edulog Parent Portal Lite. A representative for the schools says that starting in early May, they will be testing out the full version of that app.

Related: Newport News school buses equipped with stop-arm cameras to catch violators

Both school districts are hiring. Chesapeake says it has a job fair specifically for bus drivers, custodians and school nutrition workers being held on Friday, April 23 from 1-5 p.m. at Indian River High School.

Virginia Beach also has openings for bus drivers. It is currently advertising a teacher and administrator employment fair that will be held virtually on Saturday, April 24 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. More information can be found here.

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