SMART Tag IDs enter district-wide use

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Laurie Carrillo

A student poses with her SMART tag ID, received at the beginning of the school year.

Clarissa Garrison, Contributing Writer

Student lanyards have provided both a new sense of safety and a mode for student expression, and after piloting the program this school year, the policy began district-wide implementation on Jan. 26.

As part of the district’s approval of the SMART Tag system, which uses ID cards to monitor bus riders, the policy requires secondary students to keep SMART tag IDs on lanyards.

At first, some students saw lanyards as a burden, but others saw it as an opportunity to express who they are. Students placed stickers, photos and even hand made drawings on their lanyards to make them their own.
“It really makes it less uniform,” sophomore Hallelujah Perek said. “When it’s personalized it becomes your style, your aesthetic, your likes, and your dislikes.”

Students began decorating their lanyards. (Clarissa Garrison)

Several factors led to the policy, but two of the most important were making bus transportation safer and allowing for easier student identification, even with masks on. With bus riders using SMART Tag IDs for safety purposes, district officials voted at the April 13 TISD board meeting to incorporate the IDs for on-campus identification.
“When you scan into your bus we can identify who’s a bus rider or not,” principal Mike Metz said. “We decided we didn’t want to single out bus riders.”

Regulations have been put in place to keep lanyards in use. Students cannot replace lanyards with a different color or style, as staff would not be able to recognize the students’ grade level.
“During the transitions I can tell who’s supposed to be there,” Metz said. “They can’t change the lanyard to something completely different like the Vans logo.”
Even with the option of personalization, however, some students are seen not wearing their lanyards. Many lanyards end up broken or forgotten at home, and each reason contributes to staff members putting more emphasis on the policy.
“Forcing a student to wear something just bugs me a little bit,” Perek said. “But I understand needing it for safety reasons, making sure you’re a student coming to the school and not some random person.”