Whenever in-person classes finally resume in the Williamsburg Independent School District, school officials are planning to implement a new technology that will help them keep track of how and when students make their way on and off campus.
“The program is known as Student Management and Transportation, or SMT,” WIS Principal Marc Taylor recently explained. “What it’s going to do for us is give us accurate information on students’ movements, and it will help especially with things like parent pick-up and where student drivers are in our parking lots.”
“We can now have a good grasp on knowing who picked a student up, what time they got picked up, and if that person was actually authorized to pick that student up,” Taylor added.
Taylor continued explaining the benefits of this new system, saying, “The big positive for the parents is, if they come in and register in the system, we can protect their child from getting into the wrong car. If the parents don’t want their kids going with someone, we can make sure that doesn’t occur.”
At the end of last week, Taylor said that nearly 400 families had already registered in the new SMT safety system. To do so, a parent or guardian simply presents their driver’s license in the school’s front office. It is scanned, a special QR code is generated, and the guardians’ name is recorded in the system along with their child’s. The whole process takes about a minute, or maybe just a little longer if someone has to bring in a form of identification other than a driver’s license.
“If you’re going to pick your child up, this is something that you will have to have,” Taylor said of the new system. “Families will have their own QR codes that will be unique to a particular student. We will be able to scan that in once you’re in the pick-up line, and it will tell us exactly who is getting picked up by whom.”
Outside of parents dropping off and picking up their children, Taylor said the school district plans to expand on this technology in the future.
“Initially we are going to utilize this as a way to monitor parent pick-up and drop off situations,” Taylor explained. “But we are going to expand on it to be able to know where student drivers are on campus, to be able to know who is getting into vehicles, and to know who those people are authorized to take.”
Taylor outlined another scenario where the technology could come into play, saying, “In the future we will be able to scan a QR code for students when they get on and off of a bus, so we will know for sure who was there, and at what time.”
“The possibilities are limitless with this technology when it comes to protecting our students.”
This technology has been around for a couple of years now, and other school districts have already been using it to help track the whereabouts of their students. Taylor pointed to Clinton, Wayne and Hardin counties as three examples of other districts who have had success with SMT.
“This goes to the heart of our vision at Williamsburg concerning school safety,” Taylor said. “This is a part of our ‘safe school initiative,’ and it has been something that folks in the state of Kentucky have applauded in recent years as a system to effectively help protect students.”
When asked about any privacy issues that may arise from utilizing this system in the school, Taylor explained, “Everything is done through a totally secured school server. The developer of this program actually worked for a time in the Pentagon, so in terms of security, this is something that the Kentucky Department of Education has actually looked into, and they are confident that it is very secure. All of the information will be housed here, and would in no way be able to be breached.”
And as for the cost of the program, Taylor said, “The cost of just one student not getting into the wrong car… I’m not sure you can put a dollar value on that. Being able to have that record of where everybody has gone during the course of the day is definitely worth it.”
If you are the parent or guardian of a student at Williamsburg Independent School, please call or come by at your earliest convenience to find out how you can get set up in the school’s brand new safety system.
Extra Content: Tim Armstrong, retired school principal and co-owner of SMT Access, wished to share the following information along with this story… Max Schachter is the father of Alex, who was murdered in the Parkland shooting. Max’s life mission is now to make schools safer. His website is www.safeschoolsforalex.org, and a scholarship foundation fund site can be found at www.alexschachter.org.
Those interested in learning more about the ongoing efforts to make our nation’s schools safer are encouraged to visit these websites, as well as www.ud.net/smt to learn more about Student Management and Transportation.