Schools were in some ways fortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States fairly close to the end of the school year giving them the summer to figure out how to bring students back in the Fall. Faced with many different requirements from their cities, counties, states and from the federal government, educators and administrators recognized the complexity of the situation they were in. And now with the school year imminent, it is clear that technology and automated processes are needed to alleviate some of the strain the necessary symptom screening and contact tracing would put on school staff. Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, in Houston, TX chose ReturnSafe to assist in their mission of making it safer and easier for their students, faculty and staff to return to school this semester.
We recently spoke with John Fahy, Assistant Principal for Student Affairs at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory on why his team chose ReturnSafe as their technology partner to automate their return to school process and to make their campus safe for in-person learning once again.
The Need for a Digital Solution for Managing the COVID-19 Threat
Strake Jesuit College Preparatory recently re-opened for the Fall semester, remotely. However, everyone is eager to get back to campus as soon as they can. “We know that our on-campus experience is what makes us such an attractive choice for our students and families, which is what created this urgency around finding a technological solution for the current situation. Our community wants to get back on campus,” said Fahy. “We want to reopen carefully, with the most innovative tools available to us.”
Why Schools Need Contact Tracing
Typically, Strake Jesuit has over 1,300 students and about 200 faculty and staff on campus. An academic community is a complex beast to deal with during a pandemic, as what is an isolated community while on campus, represents a large cross section of people once they leave. Strake’s student community interacts with siblings who attend other schools, parents who are essential workers, family members of staff who are essential workers, and so on, so tracking the movements of this community throughout the school day was going to be crucial to stopping an outbreak. “Without an automated solution this would be quite challenging for our staff,” said Fahy. “And of course, what’s compounding this is that the classroom experience involves spending considerable amounts of time in one place amongst other people.” Contact tracing on a campus is critical due to these two key factors.
Why Strake Jesuit Chose ReturnSafe
“We feel a personal commitment to making our school safer so that we can return to our campus and ReturnSafe is helping us open sooner and more safely for our students.”
John Fahy, Assistant Principal for Student Affairs at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory
John and his team created a COVID-19 committee, which consisted of faculty, staff and parents. Their discussions began around how to implement the many guidelines they were provided by federal, state and local officials so that they could reopen for the new school year. And when they arrived at the concept of digitally assisted contact tracing they looped in their IT team as well.
“What really caught our attention during the evaluation process was that we could implement ReturnSafe’s contact tracing solution on our school-issued iPads, which are given to all students. This is a very simple and cost-effective method for us to rollout ReturnSafe to our community, which is also multiplying our school’s ability to contact trace, making our COVID-19 response more accurate and easier to implement,” said Fahy.
Return to School Process
Strake Jesuit is hoping to return to campus in a few weeks and they know that their re-entry is going to begin with a hybrid model where a portion of students will be onsite and the remainder will be at home. However, the team has already begun symptom screening and manually contact tracing for the faculty and staff that are on campus already. But there was always a concern that they would not be able to continue this methodical approach when they needed to scale up to their full student population. But they are now confident that they will be able to maintain the same level of safety standards, even with everyone on campus, thanks to ReturnSafe. “Having ReturnSafe on our side, the scale-up process looks a lot more manageable for us and we think we will be able to open sooner and safer,” said Fahy.
Getting Started with ReturnSafe
“Our onboarding process has been so smooth with ReturnSafe. Our questions have always been answered quickly and the team has been more than happy to jump on calls with us to support us throughout the onboarding experience and now through the rollout,” said Fahy. The ReturnSafe team knows that these are challenging times for our customers, no matter the industry, but particularly so in education. It is important to us that each and every customer gets the guidance and assistance that they need.
As educators and community leaders, the team at Strake Jesuit are committed to making their school safe for their students, faculty and staff and they are all motivated by the desire to return to in-person classes and activities once again. With ReturnSafe’s daily symptom tracking and contact tracing tools we are helping them to do just that. For more information on how our solution can help your school do the same, book a demo with our team today.
As we all continue to navigate reopening, the importance of maintaining a healthy and safe space for our coworkers, partners and customers is paramount. We rounded up some of our recent articles to help you put a best in class return to work procedure in place.
Why You Need a BioSecurity Program
Opening safely and staying open is everyone’s goal right now. In order to do this in an effective way, businesses need a BioSecurity program. Learn why
How the Betsy Hotel is Addressing COVID-19
Daily employee screening and contact tracing technology is key to their reopening. Find out why they chose ReturnSafe. Read more
COVID-19 Business Insurance Implications
As businesses start returning to work, the question lingers, what will happen to business insurance? COVID-19 is making waves. Find out how
Are you looking for screening and contact tracing tools for your organization? Book a demo with someone on our team to try our tools! Learn how it works.
As businesses start returning to work, the question lingers, what will happen to business insurance? Business Interruption Insurance has made headlines throughout the shutdown for excluding pandemics from coverage. The reason for this is twofold, Business Interruption Insurance is typically tied to property and casualty, of which the losses from the government shutdowns did not impact. And many policies specifically have a pandemic exclusion. Therefore, the need for a new type of coverage now exists and it will most likely be tied to biosecurity processes that businesses will be required to put into place. Read on to explore the current state of business insurance, how biosecurity can help, and why business will need to implement a suite of new proactive measures to protect their organizations from future disease outbreaks.
Current State of Business Insurance During COVID-19 & the PRIA Bill
Previously, pandemic-related insurance was practically non-existent, except for ‘PathogenRX 2018’, which was not in high demand. And because Business Interruption Insurance is both connected to property and casualty and the major insurers put pandemic exclusions into place thanks to Ebola and Swine Flu, businesses were left out to dry when COVID-19 hit—organizations were not covered for the losses they would incur due to the effects of the both the disease and the consequent government shutdowns.
However, no one is writing policies for the current pandemic, just as it’s nearly impossible to get flood insurance during a hurricane. Also, insurance companies will only take on so much of one type of risk, and the demand is so high for pandemic-related insurance it will likely become ‘sold out’ from the major insurers when it does become available. This is the reasoning behind the PRIA Bill introduced recently in Congress
The PRIA Bill would create a program in which participating insurers would offer pandemic-related business interruption and event cancellation coverage, and they would be reimbursed by a federal backstop for some of their losses. Having a government backed solution will allow more insurers to come into the market to meet the demand.
Need for Biosecurity
In the long run, what this means for businesses is that they need to implement a suite of new proactive measures to protect their organizations from disease outbreaks as well as put policies in place to maintain business continuity more seamlessly than they had when COVID-19 hit.
Many businesses found themselves in a position where they could not track exposure to to the virus, so if someone tested positive, they had to shut down their entire facility. However, with a biosecurity plan in place, management can see where the infected person was in the facility and whom else they may have exposed. For example, if an infected person worked in the sales department on the 2nd floor, they can just isolate the 2nd floor only and in some cases only the sales department. Being able to see who is exposed to an infected person allows businesses to isolate individual areas as needed, which is the first step in mitigating the losses caused by a virus.
How Biosecurity Will Improve Business Insurance
Biosecurity processes that allow organizations to strategically screen, monitor and trace disease infections throughout their facilities are starting to become mission critical to business operation. Besides making the workplace safer for everyone, they will also make insurance more affordable and less risky.
Just like when you install a fire alarm, insurers are likely to give you a discount because you have taken a proactive step to minimize the risk of losses from an insurable event. Biosecurity is essentially a combination of an alarm system (screening/monitoring) and a sprinkler system (contract tracing). The early detection and fast mitigation that is made possible with BioSecurity is along the same lines as defending against other conventional threats like fire, floods, and earthquakes. Visit our How it Works page to see exactly how our tools can help you protect your business.
Legal Necessity for Biosecurity
The Job Safety Act of 1970 gave rise to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which requires employers to protect their employees from known and common threats. A biosecurity solution like ReturnSafe will likely become mandated as public health hazards that are linked to employee safety. COVID-19 has brought those threats to the forefront. We see this as an opportunity to collaborate with insurance companies to write in disease mitigation and protections to their new health policies.
This is what will drive the price of pandemic-related insurance down and allow major insurers to meet the demand for businesses impacted by not only COVID-19, but also those concerned with the lingering effects of the disease as well as future bio-threats.
The personal threat that COVID-19 puts upon employees, is already covered by OSHA policies because it is what is known as a “lethal moment.” As the situation develops, it is unlikely that companies can be held accountable for employees contracting the virus at work, but if they haven’t done enough to prevent an outbreak at their facility, it is likely they will be held accountable for the oversights. The questions management teams need to be asking themselves right now are:
What processes can we put in place to mitigate and protect against airborne illnesses spreading?
How do we educate our workforce on the best practices to protect themselves and their co-workers?
How do we approach pandemic insurance? And how to put ourselves in a position to receive the best rate from an insurer?
No matter what industry you are in, our screening, monitoring, and tracing tools give our clients the ability to provide a protective mechanism for their employees, customers, and partners. For more information on how we can help your team put a biosecurity process in place and to prepare for the new world of business insurance that we are all entering, request a demo today. Learn how it works.