SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Sarasota Military Academy and SMA Prep will be the first schools in the world to use a specific type of software when they re-open their campuses this fall. Students, faculty and staff will be able to voluntarily enroll in a contact tracing program called “SCOUT.”
The SCOUT program is actually an app where you enter data daily about how you’re feeling and where you’ll be throughout the day.
This will hopefully help the campus get ahead of a possible COVID-19 outbreak.
“Obviously we never wanted to see a pandemic like we’re dealing with, but now that it’s here, we have at least created the underpinning to change and create opportunities for students unlike ever before,” explained Dr. Todd Brown, the Community Outreach Director for SMA.
Since coronavirus test results take days to come back, at the first sign of sickness, a student can log on to the app and check off their symptoms. While they wait for their COVID-19 test result, staff can get started with contact tracing and let others on campus know. Sarasota Military Academy has been prepping for something like this for years.
“We are in a situation now that is unprecedented in U.S. History, and really world History. When have we ever had an opportunity in which we have built a curriculum around this. We have a textbook coming out about this. We have some of the best scientists in the world in infectious diseases involved in our program. We can teach something about the elephant in the room that engages students at a higher level because this affects them and their families every single day,” Dr. Brown tells us.
For about six years, Dr. Brown has partnered with top scientists from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT to develop curriculum for their annual program called Operation Outbreak – where students learn how health experts can get ahead of a sickness and determine how to prevent infection.
SMA has shared information on this program with the Sarasota County School Board to see if all schools in the county can take advantage of it - as institutions across the country will be readily available to use this as well. This software does follow all HIPAA regulations, and is very secure for anyone who uses it.
“The system has to trust the user, and the user has to trust the system. If there’s any kind of divide between the two of them, then we start to have problems. People start to get scared and think if there’s a big brother watching me, but that’s not the case by any means. This is about the communal good. We would ultimately love it to be used as much as possible because this is something that we are in desperate need of,” Dr. Brown explained.