Austin College using app to screen for COVID-19 symptoms

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 11:34 PM CDT
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Austin College has been tracking COVID-19 cases on campus since the school year began and right now they have 30 active cases.

As a precaution, they’re requiring students and employees to screen themselves for Coronavirus symptoms daily through the Austin College mobile app.

Once students and staff log in they’re given a series of questions to determine symptoms and possible exposure to the virus.

Anyone who records not showing symptoms will get a green badge, anyone who reports any of the symptoms of the virus will get a red badge.

Students that receive a red badge after their app screening are required to report to health services on campus while employees report to human resources.

“We found this is a really terrific tool for the culture of commitment to keeping our campus healthy,” said Lynn Womble, Austin College chief marketing and communications officer. “It’s not unexpected that we would have cases on campus but the things that we are doing to keep our students safe, to keep our faculty, our staff safe are really working.”

Even though everyone is required to take the health survey on the app some students worry it could open the door for false reporting.

“You never know who’s going to be honest on it, I think that’s just one downfall or bad side of it. But I think it’s pretty good," said Aubree McCune, a freshman.

“When health services directs a student for quarantine or isolation each one is an individual case,” Womble said. “Some students have individual rooms, some students are off campus, some students are on campus.”

Thomas Jolin, a freshman, said the process of reporting symptoms to the school through the app, and the contact tracing “works pretty seamlessly.”

“The contact tracing where we scan in at every location we go to that’s really helpful because if we have a case somewhere you can retrace the steps and see where we’ve gone,” Jolin said.

Other students say the connectivity of the app makes it valuable.

“The most helpful has been the direct chat system. You can talk to professors about not being able to come to class or anything," said Solomon Wyatt, a senior.

Class sizes have been reduced for the school year and some classes have been divided in to different days and times during the week so there’s enough classroom capacity to maintain social distancing.

In addition to the screening app, only students, faculty and staff are allowed on campus.

Any visitors must be invited and check into the campus welcome center where they answer standard COVID-19 screening questions. Afterwards they are given distinct wristbands to be allowed on campus and they must report directly to their campus host.

“At the beginning of the school year we invited students to determine what would be their learning option. Did they want to learn remote at home, or did they want to come to campus," Womble said.

They also have a dashboard on their website where anyone can see new cases, active cases, total cases and total recoveries from students and employees.

The college handles every self-reported positive COVID case on an individual basis and some students are already living in individual rooms on campus this year.

All students are required to wear masks on campus and Womble said they’re “using an abundance of precaution so that every building’s traffic flow are a the most healthy, safety levels they can be.”

Copyright 2020 KXII. All rights reserved.

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