Parents create symptom-screening software to ensure a safe return to school for children
BATON ROUGE – This Sunday, a group of students are preparing to start their third week back in school. Louisiana Key Academy, a charter school for children with dyslexia, is the first school in the capital region to return to the classroom, and two parents played a big role in reopening the school.
“I think this is going to provide an example to the nation really on how this can be done,” said Dr. Brian Benson.
Benson and his wife Kaley have three children who attend LKA. They’ve been impressed with the safety protocols the principal has put in place. The students are wearing masks, social distancing and frequently washing their hands.
“I'm talking about staff and students. They walk in expecting to wash their hands as soon as they get in,” said Kaley. “They all have one purpose; for everyone to be as safe as possible and to get back to learning again."
The Bensons found a way to add another layer of safety to these protocols. Brian created software that allowed patients to answer some questions and find out if they needed to go into the doctor's office. That quickly shifted into making a symptom screening software for schools.
“We learned more about the critical ages when kids must learn how to read, kindergarten through third or fourth grade when their brains are just growing rapidly, and to miss that opportunity could have life-long consequences. We realized this was a worthy cause and we need to focus on getting the kids back in school,” said Brian.
The software the two created is called ‘Cleared4School.’ Being used at Louisiana Key Academy, every school day a parent needs to answer a list of questions on the online survey related to COVID-19. Some ask if their child has had a loss of taste or smell in the last three days, or if they have a runny nose. Once they have finished and are cleared, the student can enter the building.
“You feel more comfortable trusting your child in that environment, and the teachers feel more comfortable because all of the kids have been screened,” said Kaley.
The online software does rely on the honor system.
“I've spoken to some teachers and parents and they said, ‘what if a parent sends their kids to school sick anyway?’ That is absolutely a potential and all of our efforts are going to depend on parents being honest and never sending a sick child to school,” said Kaley.
Regardless, the Benson’s feel some form of screening is better than none. They feel there is less of a risk that someone who potentially has coronavirus will expose others at school with the software being in use.
The Bensons are now talking to other school districts to see if they want to use the software too.
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