ELKTON — Parents and guardians of Cecil County Public School students will now be able to track the location of their child’s school bus after the school system implemented a new app at the beginning of this school year.
The WheresTheBus app, which is free to download in Android and Apple app stores, allows families to know where their student’s bus is every 15 seconds, provides an approximate time of arrival, and notifies the parent or guardian if their student missed the bus. The app also has the ability to notify app holders of a substitute bus assigned to the route or to provide a scrolling banner for systemwide or bus route-wide special notifications to parents in the case of fog delay, early dismissal, and other situations, according to CCPS Supervisor of Transportation Gregg Tulowitzky.
Before CCPS adopted the app, Tulowitzky said parents and guardians would have to contact the bus contractor or school transportation office for information about the location of their child’s bus, but now families simply have to open up the app on their mobile device for up-to-date information.
“Communication is now instantly available on a mobile device without contacting the school, contractor or transportation office,” he said, adding that phone calls to CCPS’s transportation office have dramatically reduced since implementing the app.
Tulowitzky previously served as the head of transportation for the Delaware Department of Education, where he had researched school bus GPS systems with a parent application and presented a plan to the DDOE.
According to Tulowitzky, when Superintendent Jeff Lawson took his current position, Lawson had sought to implement a parent app but the bus routing system did not have a module for such an app. After finding a different routing system that could incorporate the school system’s GPS system into a parent app, CCPS began using WheresTheBus at the start of the current school year.
Parents or guardians can register for the app at www.wheresthebus.com — which CCPS officials recommend doing on a computer rather than a cellphone — with their student’s ID number and date of birth.
Approximately 12,000 CCPS students are eligible for school bus transportation, and 2,100 families have accounts for 2,900 students, with the app adding about five to 10 students every day, according to Tulowitzky.
Currently, the app’s support team must add additional students to a parent’s existing account, however Tulowitzky said the app developers have plans for parents to be able to do this themselves in the future.
Parents will be able to use their existing account in future school years rather than having to re-sign up with a new account, according to Tulowitzky.
Since app holders need a student’s ID number and date of birth to track a student’s bus, the app will be secure and only accessible to parents and guardians who have that information.
If an issue does occur in which a person who should not have access to the app’s tracking capabilities obtains access, Tulowitzky said CCPS is able to restrict access to an account. Tulowitzky added that the WheresTheBus app only allows a student’s record to be linked to a single account.
“Once a student is registered with an account, the access to that student is restricted to the original account holder,” he said. “This prevents anyone from gaining access to just any student record. This also prevents two parents from access to the same student unless parents share the same username or password.”
According to Tulowitzky, CCPS’s implementation of the WheresTheBus app makes it easier than ever for parents and guardians to know where their student’s bus is.
“This system allows parents and guardians to use their mobile device in a very productive way to know the location of their child’s bus,” he said.