GOSHEN — Parents of students at Goshen Community Schools can receive real-time updates on the location of their child’s school bus by using a free app on their smartphones.

The app, SafeStop, is available on Apple and Android smartphones and allows parents to stay informed about their child’s bus arrival and departure times.

Alan Metcalfe, assistant superintendent of primary education at GCS, said the SafeStop app works with GPS tracking systems on GCS buses. The district implemented the app in January and officially rolled it out last week. 

It connects the district’s parents and school officials with information on the buses transporting the students to and from school.

“We have been beta testing the app since December,” Metcalfe said. “This app only works for students who are assigned to ride a GCS bus and works using the one bus stop assigned to them. This means that only the parent/student has access to the student’s information in the app. No one will be able to access it without a student ID number.”

Goshen Community Schools transports about 3,000 students to and from school every day, according to Metcalfe. The district is the second largest in Elkhart County with 6,580 students and 10 schools.

“We feel it’s going to be really beneficial because our bus driver shortage has required us to double up routes using existing buses or split the students among other buses,” Metcalfe said. 

The app also allows the transportation department to push out notifications about specific routes using the built-in messaging function. This will allow the transportation department to communicate directly with app users.

For example, “if the app users have the notification turned on, we can send a notification saying ‘Bus 19 is being replaced by Bus 23 today’ and then when they pull up, they’ll watch Bus 23 come around,” Metcalfe said.

During the winter, Metcalfe said the app will be useful with cutting down on the time students need to wait for the school bus at the corner.

“In the winter time we don’t want kids waiting out there that long because some of our bus stops are a quarter of a mile away from their homes,” he said. “So being able to monitor where the bus is during the winter time also means our kids can stay indoors longer and they’ll know with much greater accuracy when the bus is coming.”

Goshen is the only school district in the county using the SafeStop App, officials said. 

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