Local school district doubles down on bus safety

Local school district doubles down on bus safety

WASECA, Minn. (KEYC) — The Waseca Public School District is going above and beyond for its bus traveling students.

This is the first year bus ID's will be issued to students.

“We can search by bus, by kid, by time and even by stop location,” Andrew Gerdes of Palmer Bus Service said.

But how are they able to do all this in real time?

“As the kids get on the bus, there is a scanning unit to the right of them," Gerdes added. "It’s an RFID scanner. They don’t even have to swipe, they just have to take their card, get it close or tap the sensor, the sensor will beep, it turns green and that means they are good to go.”

When the student is on the bus, they appear as an active rider on the districts computers.

It can save a lot of time and save a lot of worry for parents.

“Little Billy didn’t get off the bus. Do you know if he got off the bus? In years past, we would have to call the teacher up and ask if they remembered putting Billy on the bus? She’d say I kind of remember that,” Supt. Tom Lee said.

But that changes with the new ID system.

“That mom calls me, ‘did Billy get on? Quick look at the database, yes he got on at Hartley. ‘Well where did he get off?’ Quick look at the database says he got off 2 stops early. ‘Oh, I know. He went over to Andrew’s house.’ Really easy," Supt. Lee added.

Another welcomed addition has been the stop-arm camera.

Implemented last October, the camera helped catch 38 violators in the remaining months of the school year.

“You can see the car clear as day going right past the bus,” said Gerdes.

The camera is always rolling and is difficult for drivers to see.

Where it's most beneficial is giving authorities physical proof of a violation.

“I can’t stop people from making wrong choices, but we can give them consequences now,” Gerdes said. “As the technology evolves, we need to get that technology to enhance our mission of keeping kids safe.”

The district has also implemented two interior cameras to keep an eye on what’s going on inside the bus as well.

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