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County public school students to be issued high-tech ID cards

STORY BY GEORGE ANDREASSI (Week of June 17, 2021)

High-tech identification cards will be issued to Indian River County’s 17,000 public school students for the upcoming school year that will enable educators to upgrade security on campuses and buses.

The new ID cards will also be part of a new system that alerts parents when their child’s school bus is approaching a nearby stop to pick up or drop off students, said Deputy Superintendent Scott Bass.

In addition, students will be able to use the new ID cards to borrow and return items at their school’s library and media center, and to pay for meals in the cafeteria, Bass said.

“We needed to take one more step to keep our students safe,” Bass told the School Board during the May 25 business meeting. “This is so long overdue. It is used in many other districts. It really will bring us to where we need to be.”

The School Board voted unanimously May 25 to approve an agreement to pay CI Solutions, of Seattle, $65,820 for the ID cards, breakaway lanyards and a service agreement for the 2021-2022 school year.

“First and foremost, this ID card system is going to keep kids safe by using the card to be able to identify who is on campus and what campus they should be on,” Bass said.

The cards will also help educators track down young students who get on the wrong bus or get off their school bus in the afternoon and don’t show up at home, Bass said.

“This will give us that confirmation that the kid got off the bus, where they got off the bus and what time they got off the bus,” Bass said. “It’s a huge safety measure here for our students and their families.”

The electronic system will also help administrators more accurately track bus ridership, Bass said.

In addition, the system alerts families when the school bus is approaching their bus stop, Bass said.

“You can set your phone to the parent app for ZPASS that will allow you to set up a geofence anywhere from 50 meters to 500 meters that will ping when your child’s bus is coming to pick up, or when they’re getting dropped off,” Bass said.

As a result of the advanced warning, fewer students are expected to miss their school bus in the morning, Bass and other officials said.

Several School Board members said they believed the high-tech ID cards were an overdue security measure.

“This has long been missing from our district,” said School Board member Mara Schiff. “We have not had ID tags for students, so we know who is supposed to be on campus, where and when. In the context of safety and security, this could not be more important.”