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.