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Hawaii Launches New Online School Bus Pass in Response to COVID-19

The Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) released details on a new online bus pass application and payment feature that is designed to provide flexibility and safety for students and their families as well as school staff.

On Monday, parents with email addresses in their student’s profile received automated emails that contained instructions on how to apply. The goal, relayed James Kauhi, the administrator for the HIDOE’s Student Transportation Services Branch, is to allow parents to submit contactless applications during the COVID-19 crisis.

Previously, he said the bus applications were paper forms that parents submitted directly to each school office. School clerks uploaded the applications into the HIDOE’s registration system. Parents would then be notified how much the pass cost and how to submit payment. A receipt and temporary paper pass would allow the student to ride the bus until HIDOE issued a permanent bus pass card.

The new online pass is managed by Harris School Solutions, which is also contracted to manage the payment system for Hawaii’s School Food Service program.

“[T]hey replicated our paper application into an online web form that is electronically submitted to the school office, where the clerk can upload the data into our web registration system,” Kauhi explained to School Transportation News. “Harris is in the final stages of infusing bus pass payments to their EZSchoolPay app, so that parents can then pay for their bus pass online.”

He added that HIDOE hopes to unveil the online payment system within the next two weeks.

Because of ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, Kauhi said that HIDOE eliminated its annual payment plan option. But parents can still purchase quarterly one-way or roundtrip bus passes as well as pay-as-you-go plans.

Meanwhile, Kauhi said all of the state’s schools are finalizing their reopening school model, which will influence the bus pass option parents select. Schools are scheduled to begin opening in early August.

“The primary goal of these models is to reduce the amount of students that are on campus on a given day, in order to promote safe distancing in the classroom,” he shared. “This means that some students will be attending campus only on alternating days and distance learning virtually on opposing days. Families with students who only attend campus on alternating days and who purchased a quarterly bus pass will be able to use that pass for the second quarter as well, since the pass will be used only half the time during the first academic quarter.”

Related: First-Ever Hawaii School Bus Safety Week Honors Heroes
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