How Schools Can Streamline Afternoon Carpool Lines

If your family is anything like mine, afternoons are nothing short of chaotic. We are constantly on the go, picking up our kids from daycare, preschool, and elementary school, feeding them (my crew is ALWAYS ready for a snack), and getting them to their next activities before homework, dinner, baths, and bedtime. I know the families in our school carpool line also have places to be. Unless I have a meeting, I wrap up my workday as efficiently as possible to maximize family time.

This was the impetus for streamlining our carpool line pickup procedure at school. With the exception of my very first year as a school counselor, I have always been a part of the afternoon dismissal process, and I am always looking for ways to shave minutes off the process. We load anywhere from 75-100 vehicles per day, many with multiple children.

The backstory: Years ago, I wrote a proposal of ideas for streamlining this entire pickup process that also tightened up on safety measures. It had 2 columns; the current problems on the left, my proposed fixes on the right. My administration laughed and told me, “Clearly you don’t have any kids, you have too much time on your hands!” I was a little taken aback, and hurt, and a million other things, but I’m proud to say that eventually, my ideas were ALL adopted and last year at my new school, we took them a step further.

I went from juggling a clipboard, a pen, and a walkie-talkie — and, on many days, an umbrella– to simply holding my Smartphone. I rarely reach for my walkie anymore.

We created a digital carpool line log. To put it simply: Each vehicle is issued a numbered hangtag. I walk the car line, typing the vehicle hangtag numbers into my phone on a Google Sheet. As soon as I hit “Return” after each number, the student’s name automatically populates in the column next to the number. The car rider team inside with the students receive this information real-time, quickly line up those students in the order of the numbers, and Safety Patrols walk them outside, in order, to our curbside “valet” service, where more car duty team members are waiting to load them into vehicles, 3-5 vehicles at a time.

The technical stuff: This digital car rider duty log requires at least 2 Smartphones or computers/iPads to access Google Sheets using Wifi or data during car duty. This is intended for use in schools that issue numbered hangtags to vehicles picking up students. Use this log to streamline the entire pickup line process. This log ensures that students will be lined up and ready in the order of the carline.

THE BEST PART! Simply type the vehicle hangtag number, and the names of the students assigned to that hangtag automatically populate in the next column! If needed, click the checkbox for who is picking up the child (mom/dad/gma/gpa/other), or type in the adult’s name. If a car does not have a hangtag, just type that student’s name in the field after verifying the adult picking up.

This log also provides a digital record of all car riders for each day of the year. The directions pages include instructions on how to flag a student if there is an emergency alert (no pickup allowed by certain people), how to add daycare van pickups without hangtag numbers, and how to save a copy and clear the shared sheet so that it is ready for use again the next day without having to re-share.

The Setup: When setting up this system before use, type all students’ names and numbers as hangtags are issued to families, and from then on, you will only have to enter the hangtag number! The names will populate on their own. Names are easily editable from the source sheet if you need to add additional hangtag numbers for new students or change a student’s name.

Enter the tag numbers as vehicles drive up, and students’ names will populate in the next column in real time.

My digital car rider duty log includes a 6-page PDF with a clickable link to make a copy of this 2-page Google sheet, as well as a directions page complete with screenshots and tutorials. This resource does NOT include numbered hangtags or tech support for the Google Sheet, but thorough instructions are included!

Want to check it out? It’s available from Counselor Station on TpT! Car Rider Duty Carpool Log – Populates Names from Car Tag Numbers Entered

Not quite ready to go digital? Don’t want to ditch the clipboard and walkie just yet? Here’s a FREE, simple car rider log printable for you to try!

Terms of Use – Counselor Station. Preview clipart by Bricks and Border and fonts by Miss 5th.

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