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Stamper said video staff meetings


are better than simply providing video-based training because of the added interaction. “Plus, we get to see our driver’s fac- es and are able to see how they are actually doing during this stressful time,” she added. The last time Stamper was physically in the same room with her 12 school bus drivers was the last day of school on May 29. That’s when the district held its regular in-service training to wrap up the school year and start preparing for the next. The bus drivers participated in a school bus roadeo and worked on 12 training topics, in- cluding railroad crossings, managing student stops, and driver best-prac- tices. Stamper said new sections were also developed to address sick students showing up to bus stops and cleaning the buses at the end of every route. Laurel Public Schools, however, is in the minority. According to a recent STN survey of magazine readers, nearly two-thirds of districts have yet to go online to keep their employees trained during stay-at-home orders. One reason why may be that school system IT budgets are decreasing. The Consortium of School Networking conducted a back-to-school survey in June and reported that 42 percent of school districts predicted a decrease in IT budgets, with 30 percent an- ticipating a decrease in professional development. These cuts, along with others being


implemented at school districts in response to rising expenses related to COVID-19, make free training even more valuable. For example, wheel- chair securement manufacturer Q’STRAINT took its National Train- ing Seminar completely online. The virtual event was held July 13-31 and featured seven lessons that ranged in length from 30 to 90 minutes. In addition to its STN EXPO Indi-


VIRTUAL GARAGES


When it comes to the school bus shop, today’s mechanics and tech- nicians must know their way around a computer, due to the complexity of modern automotive electronics. That skill also comes in handy when it comes to obtaining training. And school bus manufacturers and sup- pliers have tailored their education to an online world, especially with the cancellation of in-person training provided to customers at each re- spective factory. For example, Blue Bird offers its On- line Technician Certification Training Program that is available to all dealer and customer technicians, noted Nathan Bateman, the manufacturer’s supervisor of learning technology. “This certification consists of six courses with over 30 technical topics vetted by Blue Bird field service experts. Topics range from preventive maintenance to an introduction to multiplexing, fuel systems to analyz- ing hydraulic and air brake systems.” IC Bus, meanwhile, offers a num- ber of training topics online via its service portal, said Justin Cocchiola, the brand’s integrated market- ing manager for parent company Navistar. The school bus OEM also produces two webinars each month at www.icbus.com/service-webinars. “We are running these through Oct. 1 at least,” he added. Meanwhile, The Thomas Built Buses Learning Center focuses on reducing total cost of ownership, with training provided on basis electricity, electrical systems, Daimler Truck North America systems, foundational brake systems, and warranty work.


anapolis + TSD Conference planned for Oct. 8-13 in Indianapolis and STN EXPO Reno now scheduled for Nov. 1-5, School Transportation News is preparing a free virtual Bus Technol- ogy Summit to provide information on solutions integration that can especially help student transport- ers during COVID-19. That event is scheduled for Sept. 22-24. Cummins offers customers free


virtual maintenance courses on its website. ROUSH CleanTech provides videos on driver and mechanic train- ing for work with propane-autogas school buses as well as a web-based training program. For operations that continue to have


budget money available for training, a host of pay options also exist. Training is available from third-party providers and even local colleges or vocational schools. Others are developed specifi- cally for school bus personnel. The Pupil Transportation Safety


Institute offers an online academy at a charge of $40 per single-use access key. The keys can also be pur- chased in bulk and used for any of the lessons in the Online Academy, according to information posted at ptsi.org. Each lesson runs approxi- mately 45-minutes. Current lessons include Drowsy Driving, Distraction & Driving, Student Management, and Safe Loading & Unloading. School Training Solutions also


charges for online school bus driver training and professional develop- ment. The company partnered with the National Association for Pupil Transportation a decade ago to provide professional development certifica- tion completely online. In addition to having customers in all 50 states, the company also provides state-specific driver certification courses for districts in Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, West Vir- ginia, and Wyoming. “We’ve been doing it for a while.


www.stnonline.com 29

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