Bay District Schools to roll out district-wide student safety technology

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A district-wide safety initiative received the green light from Bay District Schools.

Come fall, all Bay District school buses will be equipped with Z Pass readers.

The "Z" is short for "Zonar," which is the GPS student tracking company used by the district.

The student identification system has already been introduced to some local schools but will become district-wide this school year.

Students will come onto the bus with their I.D. either around their neck or on their backpack, they'll scan it onto the card reader, which will then make a sound and light up green to indicate that the students' location and time of check-in are being recorded.

Jim Chambers, Route Manager for Bay District Schools' Transportation Center, said, "If a parents calls in and says, 'Little Johnny didn't make it home,' we can pull this data up on our desktops and be able to tell them, 'Well, little Johnny got off the bus at 1650 June Avenue at 2:45.'"

The goal is for the Z Pass to be a tool in emergency situations.

"As you can imagine, just one student missing is scary," Michael Carter, Director of Transportation for Bay District Schools, said.

The Z Pass will also be used in students' daily routine.

"We decided to add food service and media services. That way, the student uses the card throughout the school day and it brings relevance to both the student and the parents," Carter said.

Transportation officials said they know kids will be kids, so if a child loses a Z Pass, they hope to offer a free replacement.

If it's lost more than once, it'll cost $2 to $3 to replace.

Bay District Schools is the first district in our area to put the pedal to the metal on this project.

"There's a lot of districts sort of keeping an eye on us right now to see how this works," Carter explained.

As other counties keep an eye on Bay District Schools, the district will be keeping an eye on its students.