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Schools Share Illness Info To Keep Others Well

Steven Depolo
Even with a flu shot some kids still get sick. A program allows parents and school nurses to pool information to decrease disease.

At least four Southwest Ohio schools are participating in a program which uses a smart thermometer and an app to track and stop the spread of disease.

The FLUency program, sponsored by Kinsa and Lysol, wasn't able to share which local schools have signed up for privacy reasons, but says 1,400 schools are taking part nationwide.

Kinsa spokeswoman Nita Nehru says the app serves as a triage system. "Once a parent takes the temperature they are able to connect to the app and they can put in what symptoms their child is experiencing. The app will give you guidance based on your child's age, level of fever and any symptoms they put in. It gives you a little bit of context about what you should do in that moment."

School nurse Olivia Haas works for Newark City Schools near Columbus. She has five kids herself. "When I look on the app, I can tell as a parent, it looks like there are five people in fourth grade that have the flu or there are three people complaining of sore throat or fevers. They even have things like one for pink eye."

Newark participated for the last two years with more than 50% of parents signing up.

"Attendance is such an important part of school," Haas says, "but so is keeping our families healthy. So the fact that we can better communicate with families of what's going around, it keeps our schools healthier and, in the long run, keeps our attendance better."

The program is free, and the data parents, teachers and administrators see is anonymous.

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology