Boost teacher safety via Covid symptom app, heads urged

Participating schools to receive 'daily insights' into health of school community
11th November 2020, 2:37pm

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Boost teacher safety via Covid symptom app, heads urged

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/boost-teacher-safety-covid-symptom-app-heads-urged
Covid-19 In Schools

A new programme has been launched to help monitor the spread of Covid-19 in schools.

The School Communities programme has been launched by the wider Covid Symptom Study team. Once headteachers have signed up, it allows parents and carers to log how their children are feeling on an app linked to a "secure school community network", which will send leaders "daily insights" into the health of their pupils.

This will help schools to "make data-driven decisions that keep children, families and teachers safe through the Covid-19 pandemic", according to the programme's creators.


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The news comes the day after new government statistics revealed more than 300,000 pupils self-isolated last Thursday after possible contact with coronavirus in their school.

The programme is not currently set up to record teachers' symptoms, but the team has said they may be included "at a later stage".

It works by linking children's profiles on the Covid Symptom Study app to their school's network and specific "bubble", set up by their headteacher.

Parents can log into the app on a daily basis to record their children's symptoms and whether they have taken a Covid-19 test. Children do not use the app themselves.

The anonymous symptom and test data is then aggregated, with insights sent back to the school on a daily basis. These include:

  • The number of children's health reports submitted for that day.
  • The number of children in each bubble who are feeling unwell.
  • The profile of symptoms that children are experiencing.
  • The number of children who have tested positive for Covid-19.

However, the team behind the app stressed that individual data is "never passed on to schools or other parents/carers".

"Insights are only provided to schools and parents when enough students in a school are taking part to ensure the anonymity of the children and enable robust statistical analysis," they said.

Data collected through the programme will contribute to national research investigating how the disease spreads in schools, the team said.

Parents at non-participating schools can still log their children's symptoms on the app, but they will not be linked to a school network.

Dom Kenrick, headteacher at Warden Park Secondary Academy, which took part in pilot-testing the new programme, said: "Our use of the Zoe Covid Symptom Study app has been a powerful way to engage parents in the reporting of symptoms. This engagement has helped to reinforce their confidence in our implemented academy practices and protocols while also supporting important national research."

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist at the Covid Symptom Study app and professor of epidemiology at King's College London, added: "According to our research so far, we know that Covid-19 symptoms are different in children than adults, with children presenting a different range of symptoms and in a much milder way.

"Our new Schools Communities programme will help us explore these differences and how to distinguish Covid from colds. It will help us better understand how the virus affects children and young people. This will also give parents and teachers peace of mind as they continue to keep the next generation learning through this pandemic."

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