As many colleges and universities prepared to bring students back to campus this fall, most prepared detail return to campus plans that include strategies like testing, isolation housing, virtual learning opportunities, and contact tracing. When followed as planned by students, these plans were designed to minimize community spread of COVID-19 in the otherwise socially driven culture of campus.
What many institutions have found, though, is that students returning to campus are sporadically following, or in some cases, blatantly disregarding these well-laid plans. That’s led to more than a few headline-capturing outbreaks as the start of the academic year kicks off.
Contact Tracing Options
One of those strategies – contact tracing – ranges from low tech options that require heavy management by human contact tracers to high tech solutions that are integrated directly with regional or national healthcare facilities for key tracking. In many cases, delays in identifying known contacts of an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 causes critical time lapses that can lead to community spread.
Contact Tracing Apps
Fortunately, the vast majority of students hold the key to effective, immediate contact tracing in the palms of their hands every minute of the day: their mobile devices. With contact tracing apps, students can easily monitor their own movements around the campus, creating a data-rich web of movements and actions that allow the institutions to easily determine who was in proximity to any positive individual.
With Raftr’s Contact Tracing solution, students (and faculty & staff) can quickly and easily check-in and out of locations with one-tap access to contact tracing. With location services turned on, they’ll automatically be prompted to check in and out as they move around campus, and for those who don’t wish to turn on location services, simple QR codes posted at building entryways can direct users to the check-in button quickly and easily. The location data is automatically removed after 30 days, and is never shared with anyone other than the community administrator’s requests for dates, times and coordinates of checked-in users.
What Works – And What Doesn’t
At the end of the day, like many strategies deployed for fall returns to campus, contact tracing efforts tend to be only as good as the adoption on campus by students, faculty, and staff. Challenging systems that require steep learning curves and delays in processing can be more harmful than helpful with adoption and data access are impacted.
By offering a fast, simple and streamlined approach that automates as much as possible, a contact tracing app can be an effective tool for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 on campuses.