Colleges That Require Virus-Screening Tech Struggle to Say Whether It Works

Before the University of Idaho welcomed the students to the previous campus, it placed a big wager on the new virus-screening technology.

The university spent $ 90,000 installing temperature-control stations that look like airport-metal detectors, in front of their food and athletic facilities in Moscow, Idaho. When the system sees a student moving around with unusually high temperatures, the student is asked to leave and go for the Kovid-19 exam.

But so far, skin temperature detection fever scanners have caught fewer than 10 of the 9,000 students living on or around campus. Even after this, university administrators could not say whether the technique was effective because they did not shock the students to see if they had gone to test the virus.

The University of Idaho is one of hundreds of colleges and universities that have adopted fever scanners, symptom checkers, Wearable heart rate monitors And other new Kovid-screening techniques this school year. Such devices often cost less than more valid health interventions: Frequent virus testing Of all students. They also help colleges in showcasing their epidemic security efforts.

But the struggle of many colleges to keep the virus at bay has raised questions over the utility of the technologies. An effort by the New York Times has recorded More than 530,000 virus cases on campuses Since the beginning of the epidemic.

One problem is that temperature scanners and symptom-checking apps cannot catch Estimated 40%Among people with coronovirus who do not have symptoms, but are still contagious. Can also be a temperature scanner Wildly wrong. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that such Symptom-based testing There is only “limited effectiveness”.

Schools have a hard time saying whether – or how well – the new equipment has worked. Many universities and colleges, including major research institutes, are not rigorously studying effectiveness.

“Then why are we getting upset?” Bruce Schneier, a prominent security technologist who described such screening systems as “security theaters” – that is, devices that make people feel better without actually improving their security. “Why spend money?”

More than 100 schools are using a free virus symptom-checking app called Campus Clear, which can clear students to enter campus buildings. Others are Asking students to wear Symptom-monitoring devices that can track vital signs such as constant skin temperature. And some have adapted ID card swiping systems that they use as tools in students, dorms, libraries, and gyms to detect potential virus exposure to students.

Administrators at Idaho and other universities said their schools were using new technology, along with policies such as social disturbances, as part of larger campus efforts to prevent the virus. Some said that it was important to deploy screening tools for their schools, even if they were only moderately useful. At the very least, he said, using services such as the daily symptom check application can reassure students and remind them to be vigilant about other measures, such as wearing masks.

Some public health experts said that it is understandable that colleges had not formally assessed the effectiveness of the technology against coronoviruses. After all, he said, schools are often unaccustomed to examining their entire campus population for new infectious diseases.

Nevertheless, some experts said they were upset that universities lacked critical information that could help them make more evidence-based decisions on health screening.

“It’s a massive data vacuum,” said Saskia Popescu, An infectious-disease epidemiologist who is An assistant professor At George Mason University. “The moral of the story is that you cannot invest in this technology without a verification process without it.”

Other medical experts said that there has been no decrease in surveillance of largely healthy college students, noting that symptom checkers have limited utility and the effectiveness of wearable health monitors against Kovid-19 is not yet known.

The introduction of campus screening tools has often been a blast. Last fall, university Missouri began to require All students, faculty and staff use Campus Clear, a free app that asks users about possible symptoms such as high temperatures or odor damage. Users who say they have no symptoms say “Good to go!” Notification which may make them clear to enter the buildings of the campus.

The school did not initially enforce the use of campus clear at the entrance, however, and some students only used the application as reported The egyptianCampus newspaper. In October, the university began requiring people to show their app pass code to enter certain buildings such as the student center and library. The university has promoted the app as a tool to help educate students.

But how effective it is in preventing outbreaks of coronovirus on campus is unknown. A spokesman for the University of Missouri said the school was unable to provide usage data on campus clearings – including the number of students who reported possible symptoms through the app and later tested positive for the virus – It was requested by a Times reporter.

Ivy.ee’s marketing director behind Campus Clear, Jason Fife, said about 425,000 people at around 120 colleges and universities used the app last semester, generating about 9.8 million user reports. Many schools, he said, used data from the app not to follow individual cases of the virus but to see symptom trends on their campuses.

Ivy.ai, however, cannot measure the effectiveness of the app as a virus-screening tool, he said. For privacy reasons, the company does not track individual users who report symptoms and subsequently test positive for infection.

At some universities, administrators acknowledged that the technology they adopted this school year did not pan the way they expected it to.

Bridgewater, Mass. Bridgewater State University brought two semesters that recorded students’ bases when they later developed the virus infection and required administrators to locate their contacts. A system logged students’ locations each time so they could swipe their ID cards to enter campus buildings. Another asked students to scan printed printed QR codes at some locations around campus.

By the end of the semester, however, only one-third of the 1,200 students on campus were scanning the codes. Bridgwater senior Ethan Child said he had scanned the QR code, but released it when he walked in the rain.

“I think it’s fair to ask students to do this – whether or not they will actually do it is the other thing,” he said. “People can just pass it.”

Administrators discovered that technology was not the key to preventing an outbreak of coronovirus, but simply frequent testing – once a week, for on-campus students – with contact tracing, said Chris Fraser, executive director of the university’s Welling Center .

“I am glad that we did not spend excessive money on technical equipment”, Drs. Fraser said. “We found what we needed was testing and more testing.”

Location-tracking tools eventually proved to be most useful for “peace of mind”, and they confirmed more about the findings of contact instructors, who often learned more about infected students’ activities by checking their location logs and calling them .

Other schools that discovered location tracking were not a useful epidemic protection tool, who decided not to deploy it at all.

At Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, administrators said they planned to log the students’ locations when they use campus Wi-Fi for later use in contact tracing. But the school never introduced the system, said Chris Barlow, the school’s Director of Health Services, partly because administrators felt many students had removed the virus from campus, in situations where wearing masks, such as the public Health measures were not followed.

At the University of Idaho and other schools, administrators described devices such as fever scanners as an add-on to large campus security efforts involving students’ testing, and measures such as social disturbances.

Last fall, for example, the University of Idaho tested its students for viruses in the beginning and middle of the semester, as well as some randomized tests. School also used a Waste testing program To identify an imminent virus outbreak in fraternity and penniless homes, continuously eliminating more than a dozen chapters before it spreads widely through the community.

President of the University of Idaho c. Scott Green said, “We got out in front of it quickly.” “We were able to isolate those who were ill, and we came back under control.”

Still, hiccups kept coming. The university required food service workers who worked in the dining hall to check the temperature using hand-held scanners. But many developed virus infections anyway, and the university was forced to temporarily close the dining hall over the weekend for cleaning.

For free-standing temperature-scanning stations, Mr. Green himself has experienced his limitations. He said that he was mistakenly barred from entering an athletic building when he got out of a hot car.

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