Safe, Data-Driven Return to School

February 23, 2021 by Ben Young

Safe, Data-Driven Return to School

When the coronavirus forced school districts to temporarily shut down, Brownsburg Community School Corporation, Indiana, was one of many that struggled with a difficult decision: should they have all their students learning from home or come up with a way to safely bring students and staff back to school in person?

Nick Meyerrose, transportation coordinator of Brownsburg, discussed with Tyler how he and his team developed a transportation strategy to help allow in-person learning to continue. His goal was to return to a normal school schedule while abiding by CDC guidelines to ensure a safe environment; however, thorough planning and modifications were needed to make this happen.

Nick and his team had to find a way to bring students to school safely and was able to use the Versatrans transportation management solution to examine their routes and student loads to look at the options. In order to fully socially distance students on buses, the district considered whether they could purchase additional buses to pick up students; however, they calculated they would need 563 additional buses in order to accomplish this, amounting to a roughly $79 million cost. Obviously, this wasn’t the right path forward, and once the technology showed what would be involved, they were able to switch to plans that were right for their district.

Instead, Nick and his team invested in sanitization and air circulation equipment for the vehicles and required bus drivers to completely sanitize the bus in between drives. Since each bus uses air conditioning, air filters are required to be cleaned routinely as well. All students and staff are required to wear facemasks at all times while on the bus, and extra masks were stocked just in case anyone needed one. Thorough cleaning and sanitization allowed for the district’s bus routes to go on as planned.

With coronavirus causing many sporadic changes in the district’s transportation schedule, virtually all departments have to be alerted on these changes. Nick described how Versatrans has helped unite their varying departments, as well as students and parents, to allow for cohesive and rapid communication across the entire district. The Versatrans My Stop mobile app, for example, allows parents to know when the bus is coming to their child’s stop, to help keep up with any changes to routes and times.

Using Versatrans and careful planning, the district was able to fully resume school in-person by July 30, 2020, long before any of their neighboring districts. Nick explained this seamless reopening was a result of team effort: “Our district is very tightly-knit, with everyone working together. We’re basically one team that helps each other out when needed. I believe that, along with our great leadership, has been key to our success.”

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