Returning to school in 2021 was laden with challenges. Shatavia Hurt, a mom hailing from Staten Island, New York, faced a distressing situation this month, which raised the question, “Can parents rely on Apple Tags to monitor their kid’s school bus?” This query sprung forth when her daughter, Mia, inadvertently boarded the wrong bus and was transported to a different school.
Technology let Hurt know about the mistake. She had put an item tag called Apple AirTag on Mia’s shoes. She saw Mia was in the wrong place and said her “heart dropped.”
Mia has trouble with her joints and ADHD. She should be able to take the bus right to her door. Now, she no longer wants to ride the bus. Hurt picked up her daughter and called the bus company and the Department of Education to find out what had happened and why. She told Spectrum News that she hadn’t gotten an answer yet.
While Hurt is still looking for answers, other families all over the country are having problems with buses. Many parents have to deal with school cars that are late or don’t come at all. And in many cases, it may be because there aren’t enough bus drivers.
A nationwide survey by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), and the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) found that more than half of school districts in the U.S. a “severe” or “desperate” driver shortage. Also, 91 percent of the people who filled out the poll said they had changed the way their elementary schools’ transportation services worked. People whose children are going to middle school (90%) or high school (83%) aren’t doing much better.
“Parents have to drop their kids off at school again, which is hard because it’s more expensive than using a school bus,” says Elizabeth Hicks, co-founder of Parenting Nerd, a website with information for parents. Working parents have to figure out how to get to work and get their kids to school at the same time, which slows them down.
Some parents whose kids take the school bus use technology like AirTags to keep track of their kids on the way to and from school. But experts want parents to know the following.
Apple AirTags: Can They Help?
Apple AirTags helped the mom in Staten Island, and a TikTok mom said she was using them to make sure her kids were safe at school.
If you don’t know, AirTags are shiny white rings about the size of a quarter. You can put them on things like your phone or keys. If you lose something, you can use your iPhone’s “Find My” feature to figure out where it is. They cost $29. But are they worth it for parents who are having trouble because there aren’t enough bus drivers? Experts say no.
Hicks says, “AirTag is made to track things, not people or pets.”
What’s up? GPS is not built into AirTags. So, it’s not a good tool for tracking in real-time. AirTags, on the other hand, uses Bluetooth and ultra-wideband technology to link nearby iPhones or iPads.
In an April interview with Fast Company, Apple’s VP of global iPhone product marketing, Kaiann Drance, also said that it shouldn’t be used to keep track of children. In the same interview, Drance said that a family could use an Apple Watch, but Deedee Cummings, M.Ed., LPCC, JD, says that not all families can do this because Apple Watches can cost $400 or more.
“For most parents, this can get very expensive,” says Cummings, a mental health expert, lawyer, and author of 15 books for kids.
What Else Can Parents Do?
Devices can help parents find out where their kids are, but they can’t drive them to school, which is the biggest problem for families all over the United States. Experts give advice on how to help your child get back to school after the latest change.
You didn’t ask to be a parent who has to deal with bus shortfalls and delays. Mo Mulla, the parenting resource Parental Questions founder and a father of two, says that those feelings are acceptable. But he also says that parents should take a deep breath and help their child get through it. Keeping their cool and being patient with the system helps them be more helpful to their kids.
Mulla tells parents of kids who are old enough to handle transportation problems that they should talk to their kids about possible problems before they happen and help them come up with ways to deal with them.
They need a plan for contacting their parents in case of a delay in their return home. Parents can also teach their kids where they are going and what to look for so that they can get back on track if something goes wrong.
Mulla also suggests having backup plans, like a grandparent or friend who your child can call if the bus doesn’t come and you’re at work.
Think about sharing a ride.
Hicks suggests carpooling with friends or neighbors whose kids go to the same school if there are frequent changes to the plan or if it will be too hard for a child to deal with these problems when they happen. Both parents can be in charge of getting their kids to school.
This plan can also help one family have less to worry about.
Make it fun.
Busing problems aren’t easy, but parents can help their kids show their best side. Put a special kit in a Ziploc bag and put it in their backpack. This bag will not be opened until they go on their trip.
She says to put fun things in the bag, like a coloring or activity book. If you make it seem like an adventure, that’s how they will think of it.
Meaningful articles you might like: How Old Do Your Children Have To Be To Walk Alone To School, Children’s Safety On School Buses, How Our Kids Are Affected by the National Bus Driver Shortage