Just like everything else since the pandemic started, the back-to-school season is looking a whole lot different this year. While my three sons are back in school full time, we’ve been advised that could change at any time and to be prepared to go virtual should COVID-19 cases arise within the school.
Like many parents, we’re choosing to avoid the school bus and I’m driving the kids to school every morning. I’m sure there are many of you choosing to do the same thing, if possible. In fact, according to a new Cars.com survey, 55% of parents plan to use their car to take their children to school, and the number of parents planning to carpool with other families is up 22% from pre-pandemic school years.
“As parents and local officials make the decision on how the school year will look, it’s clear that back-to-school routines will change,” said Jenni Newman, editor-in-chief for Cars.com. “We found that the majority of parents will opt for their family vehicle as the primary mode of back-to-school transport, nearly double the number of parents sending their kids on the bus. Interestingly, we’re seeing a significant increase in the number of families planning to carpool with friends or neighbors, which may mean parents feel it’s still a safer alternative to the school bus.”
Of those kids returning for in-person learning, it won’t be on the school bus.
• 30% of parents will have their kids take the school bus, a 31% drop compared to pre-pandemic.
• 3% of parents will have their kids take public transit, a 25% decrease from before the pandemic.
• 73% of parents are planning for longer drop-off lines this year as more people drive.
For those planning to carpool, cleanliness is a top priority.
• 79% will require masks for all passengers in their car.
• 68% will sanitize their car regularly.
• 50% will travel with fewer people in the car.
“Parents should try to safely distance passengers as much as possible while in the car, and consider rolling down the windows to increase airflow,” Newman said. She also mentioned the need for high-touch surfaces be frequently sanitized.
The added miles driven and need for sanitizing the vehicles is great news for dealers and their service departments. In addition to parents’ nerves, long carpool drop-off/pick-up lines will take a big toll on their vehicles’ brakes and other systems.
Consumers will also be looking for a new or upgraded vehicle, possibly one that accommodates more passengers and/or has features such as moonroofs and sunroofs to allow for more airflow.
There are many opportunities to reach out to and support your customers with customized back-to-school messages for both the sales and service departments as school buses take a backseat to the minivan.