Learn the ABCs of contact tracing in schools.

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What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is a public health and safety practice of following a pathogen as it spreads from person to person. By implementing effective strategies, you can quickly identify and notify people if they've been exposed to someone who tests positive for a contagious illness such as COVID-19.

The sooner people know, the faster they can take steps to prevent a larger outbreak.

How it works

  1. Someone tests positive for COVID-19.
  2. You identify who’ve they come in close contact with.
  3. You then notify those people that they’ve been exposed to the virus.
  4. They in turn notify people they’ve since been in contact with so everyone can work to stop the spread.

Many of today’s contact tracing protocols include using modern technologies to securely capture basic information without disrupting daily life or violating personal privacy.

Why is contact tracing important for safely reopening schools?

Reopening for in-person classes puts students, faculty, staff, administrators, custodians and school bus drivers in close quarters, even with social and physical distancing measures strictly in place. Plus, elementary students in early grade levels may not understand—or be able to consistently follow—the new rules, increasing their risk.

If even one person tests positive for the virus, school officials need to quickly identify and notify staff and parents whose children have been exposed. An efficient, effective contact tracing protocol enhance administrators’ ability to avoid an outbreak that could shut down school operations.

Where and when does contact tracing for a school start?

The moment a student boards the school bus. Each vehicle is an enclosed space shared by a group of students, plus the driver. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, school officials need to notify the right parents and the driver.

Touchless ridership visibility technology that digitally captures the date, time and location riders get on and off the bus shows administrators whom to notify.

How can K-12 schools implement contact tracing?

K-12 schools can install touchless student ridership visibility technology that’s typically used on school buses for classrooms, buildings and facilities. Each student and school employee is issued a passive, self-managed RFID card that they hold up to a touchless scanning device as they enter and leave. This device captures the date and time that person enters and exits the room or building.

Put the touchless ID scanner:

  • on school buses, if not already installed
  • outside classrooms to identify who attended, who taught and anyone who entered
  • outside buildings, libraries, cafeterias and other common areas

Can universities and colleges do the same?

Yes, and it’s just as important to do so. Higher education institutions host faculty, staff, contractors and adult students who move about more independently than non-college students. Schedules are varied, locations are spread across campus, and many rely on onsite transportation. The same touchless ridership visibility technology supports contact tracing across all locations, even multiple campuses.

Put the touchless ID scanner:

  • on student shuttles and buses
  • outside classrooms, lecture halls, auditoriums, libraries and science labs
  • outside buildings, dorms, campus offices, cafeterias and other common areas

Zonar Z Pass™ supports contact tracing for K-12 schools, universities and colleges.

Zonar Z Pass™ is a touchless student ridership visibility solution. Each student and employee is issued a passive, self-managed RFID card, which they hold up to the touchless Z Pass scanner as they get on and off the bus or enter a particular space. No contact required.

The instant an RFID card is scanned, Z Pass records the date, time and location of that scan, and uploads that data to our secure online portal, Ground Traffic Control®. If someone at the school tests positive for COVID-19, administrators can access the secure the data online to determine who was in the same room, area, bus or shuttle with that person.

Privacy matters. Z Pass records only the date, time and location the card was scanned and the name of the person who was issued that card. That basic data is uploaded to Ground Traffic Control for authorized viewing only. Z Pass does not capture or store any additional information. And Z Pass never shares information.

What if contact tracing technology isn’t in our budget?

If you have budget concerns, ask us about professional grant writing assistance. Learn what federal, state and local options are available. Times are tough, but we care about the health and safety of your students and staff. With nearly 20 years in the industry, we’ve proven we’ll put you first. Let’s work together to see what can be done.

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