Contact tracing QR codes help Virginia school keep classrooms and cafeterias safer

Contact tracing QR codes - student in classroom wearing mask

As students return to class, Patriot High School students will scan barcodes to reduce COVID-19 spread.

Contact tracing QR codes aren’t a substitute for physical distancing and wearing masks properly, but one school in Virginia is hoping to use them as a tool to further reduce the risk of coronavirus spread.

The Prince William County public school is encouraging students to scan quick response codes.

Last week, an additional 9,000 students in 4th, 5th, 6th, and 9th grades returned to the classroom, following another 22,000 that have already been phased in. As of this week, all grades will be back in brick-and-mortar classrooms after having been in a hybrid learning program until now. Students still choosing the hybrid experience will learn by way of a virtual livestream three days per week and will be in-class for the remaining two days. Families that opted for a fully virtual experience will be able to continue with that option.

That said, Patriot High School students in Nokesville, Virginia will be able to use their phones to scan special contact tracing QR codes to help keep themselves and their classmates safe upon their return. The quick response barcodes will be found both in classrooms and in the cafeteria. The idea is to make it easier to determine which students were near each other if a new case of COVID-19 is identified.

Scanning the contact tracing QR codes will allow the school to notify potentially exposed students.

“It will tell us who was at this table during lunchtime,” explained Diana Gulotta, a spokesperson for Prince William County Public Schools “Your traditional water fountain has been covered up… What we’re encouraging students to do is to actually bring their own water bottles. They can carry those with them throughout the day.”

“I’m nervous, but I am comfortable with the fact that the administration has done everything they can to mitigate this virus,” said Patriot High School teacher Lori Thorpe. “The procedures they have in place, the protection they have in place is excellent. I can not fathom anything else they could have don’t to prevent the disease from spreading, so I take comfort in that.”

The school is trying to do as much as it can to keep in-class students safe while they learn, even as the county opens its schools within the “highest risk” COVID-19 Contact tracing QR codes - student in classroom wearing masktransmission category, according to the CDC. The contact tracing QR codes will help to ensure students exposed to the virus will be notified so that they can be tested and stop further preventable spread.

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