Lanyards may be key to COVID-19 contact tracing for schools

Jeff Ehling Image
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Lanyards may be key to COVID-19 contact tracing for schools
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One tech company is betting on technology attached to a child's school ID card to help track COVID-19 cases.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Your child's school ID card might be the key to reopening schools across the country.

At least one school in the Houston area uses high tech lanyards to help limit the spread of COVID-19. The technology is used by Strake Jesuit.

The last group to get the COVID-19 vaccines will be school-aged kids, even though many are now back in class.

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At least one school in our area is using Bluetooth technology to monitor students and alert them if they've been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

When someone comes down with the virus, health officials try to figure out who those people came into close contact with so others can be warned, tested and isolated to slow the spread of the virus.

As schools reopen across the nation, contact tracing is largely done by asking the infected person who they spent time around over the last two weeks.

It's a process that relies on memory, but it doesn't have to.

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A company called ReturnSafe has a system in place that uses Bluetooth lanyards to monitor a student's progress throughout a school.

If the student comes down with COVID-19, the data collected by the system can be used to figure out who may have been exposed to. The process of isolating close contacts can happen quickly and more accurately than relying on memory.

"With these lanyards, it makes the whole process completely automated," said Jikku Venkat with ReturnSafe.

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We contacted Houston ISD and smaller districts to see how they handle contact tracing and we were told they do it the low-tech way of asking infected people who they have been around.

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