A Safe Return to Campus Amidst COVID-19



Higher education was faced with a pressing deadline last summer — how to bring students, faculty, and staff back to school this year. With schools across the world shut down, there was a collective challenge at hand. Safely bringing students back to the classroom for in-person learning was a top priority for schools, colleges and other institutions of higher education. And for South Texas College of Law Houston (STCL Houston), its timeline was even shorter, as administrators needed to open campus to students studying for the Texas bar exam, as well. STCL Houston decided to partner with ReturnSafe to implement an automated daily health screening and a contact tracing solution.


Automating daily wellness checks

Implementing an automated process for daily wellness checks was a top priority for South Texas College of Law Houston. According to Stephen Alderman, Vice President and General Counsel, “Our No. 1 goal this summer was to determine how to keep our community safe while also providing an exceptional legal education.” STCL Houston began by surveying the law school community to determine individuals’ preferences on returning to campus, and about one-third of respondents desired to return to in-person learning for the fall 2020 semester.


A multifaceted approach to safely returning to campus

STCL Houston took a multifaceted approach to reopening its campus. The law school began by creating a COVID-19 ‘Code of Conduct’ to create a sense of shared responsibility across the campus and to help motivate their students, faculty, and staff to all do their part to protect the community. Knowing that manual contact tracing can be quite difficult, school administrators sought out technology partners to help automate the necessary preventive measures to protect their community against COVID-19. After evaluating several vendors, they chose to partner with ReturnSafe.


Ensures the safety of the entire community

Because the STCL Houston campus is non-residential, all students, faculty, and staff are required to enter through the same point every day and will be allowed entry only if they have completed the daily health screening and received a “come to campus” recommendation. Then, using their smartphones, individuals are required to physically show their wellness “badge” to the front desk upon arrival. Leveraging technology for the purpose of contact tracing was a significant focus for STCL Houston administrators. With the app logbook, close interactions may be logged without encroaching on privacy concerns. South Texas College of Law Houston was able to reopen successfully, offering bar-prep classes and in-person instruction for the fall semester. Since the law school implemented the ReturnSafe app for entry to campus, students have expressed their satisfaction with the technology’s ease of use as they self-screen each day, thereby helping to ensure the safety of the entire law school community


“It is inevitable that one or more members of our community will be diagnosed with COVID-19 this year.  With the ReturnSafe app, we can identify the people who were in contact with a diagnosed individual and need to quarantine — while keeping our doors open and our community safe.”

Michael F. Barry

President and Dean


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Prevent people from getting sick, manage outbreaks and avoid shutdowns by using continuous early detection methods including Screening, Testing, Contact Tracing, Case Management, and Vaccine Tracking.

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