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Transportation departments were squarely in the spotlight of rapidly shifting policies, needs, and requirements throughout 2020 with schools reopening amidst unprecedented conditions.
Each year, school buses transport more than 25 million students to and from school, field
trips, and activities in every state, but in 2020 everything changed. As COVID-19 spread,
schools closed, buses were parked, and students, drivers and administrators had to swiftly
respond to emergent needs in the community.
Transportation departments and their teams responded nearly overnight by becoming ad-hoc community organizers: delivering meals, technology, and students to constantly shifting locations, all while managing staffing and driver shortages.
Simple, Straightforward Routing Changes Enable Fast Responses to a District’s Emergency Needs
Farmington Public Schools Transportation Department utilized App-Garden’s Routing software to rapidly respond to the transportation challenges posed by the pandemic. When schools shut down, the Transportation Department left the business of delivering kids to schools and began delivering meals to students.
Using App-Garden’s Travel Tracker Routing software and the pin-drop feature allowed the district to eliminate overlapping routes and went from 20 initial food delivery routes down to 13 routes in a matter of hours. Traditionally, replanning routes on this scale would take days of effort.
Over the course of the pandemic, transportation departments across North America faced operations challenges such as hybrid cohorts, meal delivery, hot-spot provisioning, and sanitization supply provisioning, among many others.
School districts with the proper software solutions for routing, driver assignments, and student tracking had a much different experience than those who managed routes with manual methods or traditional software.
Dated, hard-to-use routing systems, as well as paper-and-pencil methods, deeply hurt districts’ abilities to respond as quickly and efficiently as the situation required. Because of this, the federal government is providing billions of dollars to school districts to update technology, infrastructure, and other resources.
Pin-Drop Stops Based On Latitude and Longitude
The App-Garden Pin-Drop feature supported the Farmington Municipal Schools Indian Education Department’s requirements for reporting.
A recent change in data collection guidelines required the district to report the longitude and latitude for the district’s American Indian students’ homes. Gathering the longitude and latitude for each American Indian student’s home could have taken several weeks of work for the Indian Education staff.
However, by working the Travel Tracker Routing software, they were able to export the longitude and latitude for American Indian students’ homes and complete the task in under two days.
CRRSAA Funds Are Available NOW for Upgrades to District Routing Technology
In December of 2020, the government passed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), providing 54 billion dollars in funding to help education agencies at the state and local level (called ESSER II funding), including transportation departments, install solutions to support remote operations in rapidly shifting environments due to the global pandemic.
The funds are available now, and upgrades to travel transportation software are an allowable activity, so transportation and business departments should act quickly.
What is CRRSAA (ESSER II)?
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA)
is relief funding to help address issues arising from the pandemic. It is the second Coronavirus relief bill passed by the U.S. Congress that provided significant funding for K-12 education.
The first funding package was called the CARES Act and it provided $13.5 billion to K-12, which was called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief or ESSER funds. The funding for K-12 education in the CRRSAA uses the same name, referring to it as ESSER II funds.
The school transportation industry has shifted from its normal operations to managing student safety in the event of an outbreak. App-Garden Travel Tracker helps districts rapidly re-plan routes, easily communicate with parents and staff, and track ridership in an easy-to-use, intuitive interface.
To learn more about new federal funding options, download our free guide.
To learn how a modernized routing solution can aid your district in navigating new challenges, visit www.app-garden.com/routing.