A collection of news and updates related specifically to the schools, student transportation, and online safety training ideas.
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) on their podcast, The Bus Stop. Stephanie Wilcoxson joined NSTA Executive Director Curt Macysyn to discuss how current clients are benefitting from the IWS platform and creating safer spaces for students and drivers.
Stephanie is the National Account Executive for the Student Transportation Division at Infinit-I Workforce Solutions. She hopes her contribution to The Bus Stop will raise awareness to an issue about which we are passionate, safe student transportation.
Infinit-I Workforce Solutions began as a training course system to train truck drivers on safe practices. We began hearing chatter about the need for continued training in the student transportation space.
At that time, IWS began producing DVDs for school bus driver training purposes. The product was widely utilized by school districts and private transportation companies. As technology moved to support cloud-based systems, IWS evolved to maintain the needs of the market.
The Infinit-I platform is fully digital with mobile capabilities. Users can access their assigned training anytime, anywhere. Since we provide a cloud-based system, our content is constantly being re-evaluated and updated. As laws or regulations change, or information becomes outdated, IWS will temporarily suspend inaccurate videos. Our in-house video production team allows for timely and accurate rerelease.
Currents clients can browse our current resource library which boasts 400 safety training videos specifically regarding student transport. Admins can browse these titles and select the most relevant content. After a fleet evaluation, management can select the areas of driver behavior that need to be strengthened.
Admins who regularly evaluate their employees can easily pinpoint weaknesses within your fleet. If a certain group of employees is struggling, management can deploy specific training for specific groups. Many clients state this is helpful before and after audits, tackle your lowest scoring sections and experience immediate improvement.
In addition to our current course offerings, the IWS platform allows each individual district or company to upload specific content that pertains to their company. There are no two school districts or bus companies that operate with the exact same policies and procedures.
Upload content that is specific to your company’s culture or performance expectations. Whether it is your own videos, PDFs, or existing slideshows, you can assign it to your drivers along with our video content. Drivers can be tested on custom content. Management will receive the same documentation that it was completed and understood.
Your drivers will receive their own unique login information. Their assignments will be streamed to their computer, tablet, or mobile device. After completing the coursework, users can be tested on their knowledge retention.
Scenario: One of your drivers was recently in an accident and needs remedial training. Management can access the course library, locate courses that are specific to the type of accident, and assign courses directly to the individual rather than the entire fleet.
Every lesson, task, and test are recorded. Admins can view how long it took the driver to complete the course. The number of attempts will be recorded so you’ll know if they failed to reach the acceptable grade. You can also view which test questions were missed, and from there, assign additional hands-on and specific training for areas in which the driver is struggling.
Student Transport and COVID-19
With new accommodations required by social distancing, in-person meetings have become increasingly difficult and risky. We’ve experienced many layoffs and furloughs due to school closures.
Social distancing is a major issue that is driving new clients to IWS. However, the main concern we receive from transportation executives is the need to properly communicate policies and procedures that are constantly changing.
Bus companies have taken this “down-time” to put a hard focus on training. New considerations must be made as we begin to expand and onboard returning or new employees.
Transportation departments must communicate these changes during onboarding. Now is the time to have a platform in place with communication capability to support your onboarding influx.
IWS has recently experienced a surge in interest, referrals, and users as transport companies are returning to a pre-pandemic level of operation, but with new and ever-changing operating procedures. The documentation functionality of IWS eliminates the, “I didn’t know we are supposed to do it that way now,” reasoning you often receive.
WEBINAR: NSTA EXCLUSIVE
Thursday 9/24 at 11:30 am ET / 10:30 am CT Join Stephanie as she presents a live demonstration of the IWS platform. Get a visual of how easy it is to use and how it will improve your safety culture. We will be taking live questions during the webinar.
What you can expect:
- Intro from NSTA guest speaker, Jessica Pinkerton
- Live presentation of INFINITI
- Operational scenarios INFINITI can address
- Administrator’s view of the platform
- A glimpse from the driver’s perspective
- Open dialogue through Q&A
Calcasieu Parish School Board Shares Life Before and After Online School Transportation Training
Mary Bass Fontenot, Director of Transportation with Calcasieu Parish School Board (CPSB) shared with Infinit-I Workforce Solutions what life was like before and after implementing online school transportation training for the bus drivers in her department.
Mary filled the roles of teacher, assistant principal, and bus driver before becoming the Director of Transportation for CPSB. She now oversees a fleet that logs more than 1.9 million miles annually for their regular bus route.
Mary has used the Infinit-I Workforce system since July 2015. She uses the system to help train both full and part-time drivers. The parish employees 400 drivers and transports 16,000 students a day with 318 buses.
Question 1: What Was Driver In-Service Like Before Online Training?
Back in 2013, when I was a driver, training was being taken care of during in-service. We would have all of the drivers come in for a day before school started. There would easily be 500 people in a room, including drivers, aides, and subs.
The in-service would include different topics presented for the drivers. We would have a sign-in sheet and an agenda with different presenters. We would sit through this for training.
At the end of August, we would have all of those drivers come in again for another four-hour in-service, and we would break them out into smaller sections.
I remember one year it was a chiropractor who came to talk about stress, or an insurance rep, or different things like that. As a driver sitting there, I felt like the information wasn’t always good, helpful information that would help improve the driving experience.
Plus, with the sign-in, you’ve got people talking and not paying attention. Only the first five rows are paying attention, you’ve completely lost the rest of the group.
As I moved into the role of Director of Transportation, I felt like it was very important that we tighten training up a bit. I didn’t feel comfortable that people were really getting good beneficial training.
Question 2: Why Did You Decide to Implement Online School Transportation Training?
We approached training from a risk management standpoint. We got our loss prevention company involved because it’s really all a liability issue. That’s what all of this comes back to.
We got a lot of feedback from our stakeholders before we ventured out. If this was not something our loss prevention provider was on board with, we would not have done it.
It’s all a liability standpoint. I was terrified as a new director to think “What happens when we have an event? Will someone ask where they received their training?”
I questioned whether the sign-in sheet and a summary of what was covered would be enough to prove training occurred. That was the main motivating factor to move into online school transportation training.
Anytime I can say “I can produce a certificate of completion. I’ve got the data to show when they logged in and how many attempts it took them to complete the learning module. It’s really a no-brainer from the liability standpoint.
Question 3: What Was Corrective Action Training Like Before Infinit-I?
Before online school transportation training, drivers had to sit through the training on how to become a new bus driver. For example, when the next class would roll around, drivers who needed remedial training would come in and sit in the back row. They would be there for the four hours, and that was their remediation.
There were problems with this. What if that particular night they were covering something that had nothing to do with what they needed remedial training on? The training was not meaningful, and the drivers were not getting anything out of it.
The drivers were frustrated and mad. It was a lose-lose for everyone because the whole point of remedial training is to try to remediate what caused the accident and improve the drivers so it wouldn’t happen again.
Question 4: How Has Online Training Changed Your Remedial Training?
I did away with that method of training and reformatted the procedural part of the accident protocol. On the first preventable accident, we no issue online school transportation training modules.
We see tail swing, backing, not sure of bus spatial awareness, and bumping mirrors over and over and over. That’s the majority of your accidents. So, I wanted to give corrective action on the event of their particular incident.
If their accident was due to tail swing, then I assign a training module to be specifically on tail swing. If it is a backing accident, I assign remediation training on backing. I want it to be meaningful; something that will help you improve as a driver.
Question 5: How Has the Support Team Helped You with Online Training?
I can’t tell you how much of our success is squarely because of the customer service team behind the Infinit-I Workforce system. When we were first initiating this, I could just call.
I felt like I knew my client service representative (CSR). She would say, “Whatever you need us to do, that’s what we’re here for.”
We really don’t do anything as far as the maintaining. I will add a new user, help with a password or reset, and go in to see if they’ve completed all their training. My CSR helps with everything else.
For example, our last remediation, I called our CSR and said, “These people, this is what I need for them to have scheduled, and this is the timeline.”
That was it. She took care of it. That part of it is huge.
For our monthly school transportation training, I’ll call or email the CSR and tell her what modules I need to rollout. She sets it up, and I’m done with it.
Don’t let the possibility that you don’t have enough staff in your office hold you back. Infinit-I is superb at fulfilling the ins and outs of this program. They’re fantastic.
In order to keep your student transportation department operating, there are minimum amounts of required training hours over a minimum number of topics that your school bus drivers must complete each year. In most districts, these trainings are done during in-services and at periodic safety meetings pre-planned on the district’s annual calendar. Outside of that, school bus drivers are on their own to safely transport students daily to and from school, sporting events, field trips and other district activities.
A devotion to pro-active safety training in student transportation is often inadvertently overlooked, in an effort to ensure drivers meet the minimum state training regulation standards. Some districts take it a step further and post a “Safety First” sign by the time clock in an effort to keep safety top-of-mind. There’s a small problem, however, with only meeting the minimum regulations and hoping a sign will keep drivers safe … human nature lends itself to complacency.
More on that in a moment.
First, you know you truly care about the safety of the students in your district. You probably aren’t happy with simply doing the minimum amount of training, and our hunch is, you already are aware complacency could be a problem with your drivers … you’re just not sure what you can do about it.
What if you could virtually eliminate complacency in your student transportation department?
The Infinit-I Workforce System for schools was designed to not only provide an easier way to coordinate the state regulated training your drivers must go through, but to also provide an affordable and convenient way for you to ensure your drivers have access to on-going training messages on a regular basis. Continual training is a big key to helping combat complacency – which is one of the leading causes of school bus accidents nationwide.
Terry Mathis, the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety wrote this in EHS Today:
“About half of the accidents we review that are attributed to complacency involve risks that can be avoided with simple precautions. Most simple precautions can become habitual with practice and reinforcement. Once they become habitual, they are all but exempt from complacency, distraction or other common problems. Just as many children are taught and reminded to look both ways before crossing the street, workers can be taught and reminded to take the precautions that most often impact accidents and near misses in their particular site or industry.”
Complacency has dominated the headlines recently, including a news story out of North Dakota that made international news with this headline:
‘Complacent’ school bus driver,
62, blamed for fatal crash that
left him and a student dead
with 12 more injured
If you would like to learn more about how you can implement an affordable training solution that will provide an easy tool to help combat bus driver complacency, we would like to invite you to a free event in April called the “Infinit-I Boot Camp Program.”