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Georgia school districts opt for student RFID badges

In Georgia, Chattooga County School officials are planning to use new student ID cards to help track students as they board and depart school buses.

Chattooga County recently expressed its support of the new ID cards that contain radio frequency identification device chips to track students’ location. As an added level of security, the system can also enable parents to receive text messages regarding their child’s whereabouts.

In neighboring Floyd County, however, student cards will for now use bar codes instead of RFID chips. “We haven’t made a final decision about exactly where we will get the cards, but we are planning to simply use a bar code of the student identification number that the student already uses,” says Sam Sprewell, chief of operations at Floyd County Schools.

According to the Times Free Press, students in Floyd County already use ID numbers to pay for lunches and for various other school functions, but at the moment students have to memorize and recite the number each time they use it. The new ID cards will do away with this, as they can be scanned.

The Chattooga County School District recently signed a five-year contract to use StudentConnect, said Kayode Aladesuyi, chairman and CEO of East Coast Diversified Corp., the holding company that owns StudentConnect.

Chattooga County says it is going to use the tracking system only on school buses, and parents can decide whether their children will participate.

Using the RFID badges, school officials and parents will know when and where students get on and off the bus – and whether students are actually attending school. The badges will also notify bus drivers if a student boards the wrong bus or fails to get off at the right stop. Parents using the system can also see when the school bus is about to arrive so they can be ready to pick up their students.

The service is offered free of charge to the school system, as StudentConnect plans to make money through advertising that will be displayed on parents’ smartphones along with text messages or email notifications of their children’s whereabouts.

StudentConnect is in negotiations with other school districts in Georgia, as well as in Kentucky, North Carolina and California.

Chattooga county school officials insist that the system does not compromise privacy, as students are identified only by a randomly issued 13-digit number that is useless until matched with the student’s information stored in the school’s database.

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