Follow Shuttle Express Philly on F6S

Letter to Families #3: On Attendance.

Question: what if we want to pick [our daughter] ] up on any given day during the school week, how does that work? 

Here's a somewhat long summary of our current attendance process, as well as the process we hope to introduce early in the 2018-2019 school year:

You can absolutely pick up your daughter any day you choose, and we're building an app now to make this process easier.  Today, we use an app called Life360 so that parents can monitor the GPS of the driver, communicate as needed and confirm attendance -- which we validate by pictures of students at the moment, unless students decline.  

When parents want to "report" an absence from the shuttle (not necessarily from school) they'll send me and (and soon our Route Supervisor) a text, email or phone call.  Then I'll confirm that the information came from someone authorized to make the request and pass it along to the driver.

You can understand that this process is manual at the moment, and we've asked families to send this info before 2PM.  Once 2PM arrives, we try to keep our phone line clear for emergencies -- which can happen, for example, when children are not at their pickup spot as expected.

If children aren't at their designated pickup location and we don't  have a reported "absence" on file, someone from ShuttleBee will call parents to confirm.  Just last week we had a student that was in the building far longer than expected, so we called parents to confirm the unexpected absence.  The school jumped in and announced direction for the student over the loud speaker.  This process helped us to find him.

We scoured the market and couldn't find a mobile app to help us with attendance, so we're building one.  I'm not sure if it will be ready for the first day of school, but the idea is that approved caretakers can log in "absences" from their app or desktop with a one-touch step.  Because the source is validated by username and password, the driver will receive this information directly and immediately, along with confirming communication by email or text to all caretakers listed on the contact list.

We have had families pickup up students at the playground.  Even if the driver knows them by sight, we ask for direct permission by email, text or phone call from caretakers on our approved pickup list to validate.  It seems cumbersome, but in the absence of tech at the moment, it's our way to validate that there are no breaches.

Attendance is extremely important to us.  It's so important, in fact, that it's the very first tech investment that we're making -- before building an app or website to more easily on-board families, even. 

Thanks for the question!