Could this technology help reopen schools?

Schools around the world are considering different options when it comes to reopening schools safely. Could a thermometer and a corresponding app be the answer?

As the world has gone into various levels of lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, schools have also had to close. After over two months of this societies are starting to consider how they can reopen safely. Also,  as part of this is figuring out how to reopen schools, which in SA have been closed since before easter, safely with the minister on basic education set to announce final school opening dates on Thursday.

Read: School closures: What’s the latest update?

A  company called Kinsa, offers a thermometer and app which enables parents to monitor the temperatures of their children, and records the results on the app, in order to keep track of the child’s health. The app also has the ability to aggregate the readings of all children in a single school and keep it on one dashboard – giving access to the info to a school nurse for example.

Also Read: Here’s government’s plan to keep schools clean and safe once they re-open

In the US, Alisha Palmer a school nurse from Jackson Park Elementary in North Carolina,  is able to track the health of the learner there. On one day she noticed that a few kids in the third grade were sent home with high fevers. By Monday morning, it was clear a virus had struck. It was “some kind of third-grade plague,” Palmer explains. She could see the outbreak of fevers in her nurses’ portal.

The app does this through what they call the FLUency program. This is how the program works:

  • Families are sent a thermometer for use at home.
  • Parents check their child’s temperature as normal. Then decide whether to send them to school.
  • Temperatures are sent from the thermometer over to a corresponding app, where parents can add symptoms and communicate with school nurses.
  • The dashboard for the school is accessible by parents and school nurses like Palmer, in an effort to reveals illness trends at their school.
  • Only the adults are able to see the number of students with symptoms and fevers for each grade.
  • Parents can then report to the school nurse that their child is sick via the app.

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