Student transporters rely on video technology in new and enhanced ways to ride out the turbulent COVID-19 waves

Written by Jim Romeo A

s schools continue to navigate chal- lenging times due to the coronavirus pandemic, they repeatedly turn to technology for assistance. Video has

proven to be an ideal technology to help train, monitor and coach drivers in ordinary times. But the utility of video is adding even more value during the COVID-19 pandemic. Video is a fortuitous medium to train new driv- ers and provide specific instruction for existing drivers. It is accessible on multiple digital devices including phones, tablets and computers, and video can be used with little instructor or proctor guidance or intervention. In addition, video capabilities can be used for purposes beyond training. The most obvious is to monitor pupil behavior, but it now also aids with contact tracing during the pandemic, pro- vides a running account of driver behavior, and serves as a means of capturing whatever occurs during a bus transit that is otherwise difficult to control remotely. Many schools are using it, to varying degrees, and for different purposes. “Our transportation department implements

a variety of video training resources which are a part of our monthly training regimen for bus drivers and monitors,” explained Kris Hafeziza- deh, executive director of pupil transportation and vehicle services for Austin ISD in Texas. “We utilize over 50 videos created by video commu- nications throughout the school year. Various topics include bus safety, student management,

24 School Transportation News • JANUARY 2021

collision prevention, and various special needs procedures. When involved in a preventable collision, our drivers complete a two- hour refresher training including a video related to the specific type of collision that occurred.” Some school transportation managers rely on video specifically to train and onboard new drivers. Student Transportation of Peel Region (STOPR) is a consortium in Ontario, Canada, formed by an agreement between the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) and the Peel District School Board (PDSB). The consortium manages a fleet in excess of 1,450 school buses but contracts with individual school bus operators to provide home to school service. While STOPR doesn’t directly employ any school bus drivers, it does use video for training. “In early spring, our school bus operators setup online training

for new drivers,” said Wendy Dobson, general manager of student transportation for the regional municipality of Peel. “All in-class training was provided using technology such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype. For the practical training, our school bus opera- tors train new drivers one-on-one on the school bus. Our school bus operators continue to train drivers and hold safety workshops through virtual training.” Video is also a useful tool to train new drivers and help them ob- tain their CDL certification. “We use video as part of the drivers CDL training,” shared Christian Budzinski, the transportation manager

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