More than 100 S.C. school nurses using smart thermometers to track fevers, potential outbreaks

Updated: Jan. 18, 2021 at 7:25 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Students in more than 100 South Carolina schools are now using smart thermometers, allowing nurses to track fevers and potential outbreaks down to specific grade levels.

Kinsa makes the thermometers, and nurses can sign their school up to get them through a program funded by Lysol. If chosen, their students can have access to the technology and take a smart thermometer home for free.

In Charleston County, 10 schools are participating including Midland Park Primary. School nurse Donna Frye said about 40 students, or about 8-percent of the school’s population, will have a thermometer by the time the next batch gets in.

“You can see trends,” Frye said. “If 10 kids have a fever and a rash, you can see those trends and keep it under control.”

Parents can sync the thermometer to an app on their phone, so every time they take their child’s temperature, that data is stored in the app. The school nurse and other parents would then be able to see how many kids in a certain grade are running a fever or showing other symptoms.

“They can see there’s five strep throat cases in third grade,” Kinsa Spokesperson Jane Putnam said. “So me as a parent, if my daughter comes home from third grade and she’s complaining of a sore throat, I’m more inclined to take her to the doctor sooner.”

Putnam added that the data collected by the thermometers is kept anonymous.

“Everybody in a certain region when they take their temperature, I can’t identify if it’s you, if it’s me,” Putnam said. “What it does is it’s giving us the trend data versus individual health information.”

The company tracks data all across the country and allows anyone to see their “local illness risk.” They said they’ve seen increased interest in the product since the start of the pandemic and now have more than two million thermometers in use.

The Centers for Disease Control lists fever as one of the most common symptoms for COVID-19. So far this school year, Midland Park Primary reported five cases of COVID, two of them were reported last week.

“With COVID going around and all the protective equipment we wear and the kids have to wear, it can still spread,” Frye said. “Although, I have to say, we are very, very lucky, we have not had too many of our students [get COVID].”

For some students, it’s the first thermometer they’ve ever had at home. Frye said this has helped immensely at her school.

“This is a low-income, high Hispanic area, and we have a lot of parents who can’t get the money to go buy a thermometer for their child, can’t read it, or just don’t understand that once it’s 100 degrees or over you can’t come to school,” she said.

For more information on Kinsa’s school program visit here.

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