A new tool to help with the contact tracing process and more accurately determine who is a close contact or not.
As we continue our efforts to maintain in-person learning, we remain diligent in keeping the health and safety of our haumāna at the forefront.
Last month, we shared adjustments to COVID protocols that were coming which included new technologies to keep students connected to their classrooms. As the pandemic continues to evolve, minimizing the number of haumāna and hoa kumu placed on quarantine because of a positive case is very important. One of those technologies is a wearable card from SaferMe, a leading and award-winning company in contact tracing. This update is to provide you with more information on that technology and how our campus intends on rolling it out.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS NOW?
Students and employees continue to be impacted by COVID-19 quarantines. While case counts on-campus and in our community are down from August peaks, they still exist and continue to disrupt on-campus experiences. Our Hawaiʻi Island community still remains an area of high transmission according to the CDC, and individuals who make personal choices to remain unvaccinated are still subject to a Department of Health (DOH) quarantine if identified as a close contact.
The technology allows our contact tracing team to be more accurate in who is identified as a close contact, adding precision to our precaution in a timely manner. When used consistently and properly, SaferMe provides the data needed to keep students and teachers in the classroom safely. That data, combined with more students and employees choosing to get vaccinated, will minimize the number of individuals considered close contacts and the number of unregistered students and employees quarantined.
While vaccinated individuals are not subject to DOH quarantine, no one feels good about hearing that they may have been exposed to a positive case. Precise contact tracing should lessen the number of individuals that have to experience those unsettling feelings.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE DEVICE?
The device is a bluetooth wearable card that does not need recharging. The card is built for users who are privacy conscious and is a thicker version of a student or employee I.D. The card battery has a 6-month life span, and operates on very little power.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
SaferMe uses a “bluetooth handshake” functionality that automatically records the proximity and duration between other cards. If no other cards are around, nothing else is being recorded.
The cards do not record location. They simply record how long and how far cards are from one another. If there is a positive case, the contact tracing team can look up the card for the specific positive case, and set the duration (15 minutes) and proximity (6 feet), to determine who are the close contacts. Periodically, wearers will need to scan the QR code on the card to sync and send the contact data to the cloud.
While cards are assigned to users, only authorized contact tracing team members are able to see interactions. Data is stored in a secure, cloud-based encrypted database, and data older than 21 days is deleted.
Cards do go to sleep when flat on a desk or table or if there is no movement detected in 15 minutes. For this reason, the cards need to be worn when on-campus or on the bus using the distributed lanyard.
WHO NEEDS TO WEAR IT?
All students and employees on-campus will be required to wear the card, similar to their I.D. badges. It will become part of the dress code/professional attire requirements, and enforced as such.
There will be a pilot group consisting of students in grades 4, 5, 6 and 9, and kumu and staff who work with these students. The pilot will take place beginning the week of November 8 through December 17. Both grades 6 and 9 have been the most impacted by quarantines (representing roughly 40% of student cases and 50% of students quarantined). Grades 4 and 5 as alakaʻi for the elementary school were selected to help lead this pilot.
A full rollout to all on-campus students and employees will occur in January 2022.
Training on how to wear the cards (on your neck, forward facing), when to wear the cards (anytime you are on a bus or on-campus), and how to sync your card so the data can be uploaded to the cloud (using the SaferMe app), will be conducted with our pilot group. Students can opt to download the app to their own devices although time will be allotted to sync with a device set up in each classroom. In situations when students are off-campus and unable to sync their badge to a school device, ʻohana may be asked to kōkua with syncing from home for contact tracing purposes.
To be successful, this new technology will require a shared commitment from our entire kauhale. We’ll learn more through our pilot period and make refinements as we move forward. Students and employees can expect to hear more, especially as rollouts of the cards happen. If there are additional questions or manaʻo for improvement, please email email@example.com.
Additional FAQs about the SaferMe program can be found on our Health Updates page at https://www.ksbe.edu/health_updates/hawaii/wearables/.
Mahalo for your continued diligence and adherence to our layered protocols to help keep our haumāna and hoa kumu on-campus safely.