HURON, S.D. Getting students to and from school can be a challenge, but the Huron School District hopes a new system will help. The Zonar Z Pass is a system that has a patented RFID data collection process that provides instant ridership information to parents and schools.
With just a quick swipe of a Z Pass, the last location of a student is known.
"The Zonar unit inside the bus will send a signal to a cellular signal to alert where the card was scanned for that particular student, so it'll be the location of the bus, the bus number and the time that that card was scanned," Huron School District Transportation Department Team Leader Kathie Bostrom said.
The Huron School District looked for different systems like the Zonar Z Pass over the past few years and received a grant for this system back in August.
"We have used a smaller test group for about 3 weeks now and one elementary school has been issued theirs [Z Passes] for about a week and so far, so good," Bostrom said.
It's an easy system for kids to use. Their Z Pass is attached to their backpacks and they just scan the card on their way to their seats near the school bus' doors.
"It's part of their daily routine to do that, so they're excited to use it because it's something new," Parent Jared Beck said.
Working parents are loving the peace of mind that the Z Pass system gives them.
"There's an app that we can put on our phones that tells us that their card was scanned, that they got off the bus at home," Beck said. "If for some reason they don't show up at home, we have an idea of where to start looking if they went home with a kid and didn't tell us or something like that."
The app is called the "Z Pass +" and is available on Android and Apple phones. You can learn more about the app and sign up at www.zpassplus.com.
School district staff have received several positive comments from parents enjoying the process and the excitement surrounding the entire system.
The Zonar system will be incredibly helpful during emergency situations.
"We wanna try and prevent that from happening here, but if a kid doesn't show up somewhere we need to be looking for him as quickly as we can," Beck said.
The Huron School District transports around 1,100 students each day. All of them will be getting their own Z Pass to use. Each card has a certain number on it that only that child can use.
Huron is one of few schools in South Dakota to use the Zonar Z Pass system