Sunday, July 19, 2020

Tracking COVID Cases to Better Safeguard Students and Educators

Safety is at the top of the minds of all educational stakeholders, especially teachers and parents. News outlets are flooding all channels with advice on what schools should and should not do.  The CDC has also released specific guidelines to help guide the reopening of schools and the subsequent re-entry of students.  There are no easy answers or solutions during these unprecedented times, but we can all agree that the health and safety of every child and adult are of paramount importance.  To that end, it is critical that all groups have a seat at the table to add input and suggestions to any plan being developed.  For some suggestions on how to do this in a meaningful way, check out this post.

All any district can do is meticulously plan while trying to foresee as many possible scenarios that could occur once schools are reopened. Many questions and associated challenges will undoubtedly arise. The key is to be ready for them.  A proactive approach entails the establishment of protocols to track and report COVID cases across a school district while abiding by privacy laws.   Doing so provides an additional safeguard for students and staff to complement social distancing, hybrid learning models, hygiene stations, and facemasks.  It is critical that everyone knows who has been infected or has come in close contact with people that have tested positive for COVID.  Access to this vital information will then allow for staff to quarantine as necessary.  

I recently wrote about a fantastic tool called ZippSlip that every district should consider as a means to streamline communications.  It is a cloud-based mobile app that supports all communication sent from the school to parents like student registration, athletic waivers, permission slips, mass notifications in multiple languages, dynamic use of video, and the list goes on and on. You can now add another essential feature to that list as Zippslip now can seamlessly collect data on COVID for tracking purposes that can assist with safety until the virus is eradicated.  Below are some specific highlights from a brief on their website:
ZippSlip offers a solution to electronically collect and track COVID symptoms and risk information from students' parents attending the school. Quickly deployed, ZippSlip allows parents to securely update their students' information from a browser or via the ZippSlip app. School administrators can track COVID risk information on customizable dashboards that include trend charts, heatmaps, and other relevant analytics. In one glance, administrators can monitor district-wide information and then quickly take mitigation steps. With a couple of clicks on ZippSlip's administrator portal, administrators can find students with symptoms, their siblings, and which schools and classes are at risk.

In addition to collecting data from families regarding students, districts, and schools can also report information related to staff infections or recent contact with others who have the virus.  Together, the data in the dashboard can be used to help adjust plans to keep in-person learning going or make the decision to move to remote learning. In the end, it is just one more resource to help ease the many concerns that are out there. For more detailed information check out this downloadable slide deck.

With many schools implementing a hybrid learning model, a solution such as ZippSlip can help ease, but not eradicate, some concerns while keeping stakeholders constantly up to date. 

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