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Harrisburg school using technology to track students’ health

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A Harrisburg school is using technology to monitor students’ health and track the spread of disease.

Premier Arts and Science Charter School has been using this technology for four years. School nurse Sue Saintz said it is a useful tool for both her and her parents to keep kids healthy, especially during cold and flu season.

The technology includes a “smart” thermometer. Alysha Marshall is one parent using it to make sure her 7-year-old son Na’Deir is feeling okay.

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“This guy right here, he’ll get a fever and go lay down somewhere and won’t even tell me,” she said.

It is not an everyday thing.

“I’ll use it to keep track of if he has a fever every day or if it’s every four hours or whatever the case may be,” Marshall said.

However, this thermometer is not your average thermometer. This one connects to an app on Marshall’s phone, where she can record not just Na’Deir’s temperature, but other symptoms too.

“If I’m keeping track of it, I’ll hit save,” she said. “Cough, runny nose, fever, chills, things like that.”

Her son’s school, Premier Arts and Science Charter School in Harrisburg, is part of the national Kinsa FLUency program.

“It gives [parents] an extra tool to manage their child’s illness or health,” school nurse Sue Saintz said.

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Saintz said the program is free. Kinsa supplies the thermometers; parents just have to use them. Kids’ symptoms then show up in a nurse portal.

“On here, I would get a notification that there’s an increase in fevers, we’ve got more kids with fevers, that type of thing,” Saintz said. “So it gives us a heads up, all right, let’s be more diligent.”

Saintz said this is especially important now because she is seeing more sick kids after the pandemic.

“We wore the masks, we social distanced, we kept the kids apart, we hand sanitized every few minutes, that kind of thing, and now we took all that away,” she said.

For parents like Marshall, the program is one more tool to tackle the upcoming cold and flu season.

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“If I have all the information I can take it to the doctors with me, so then that way I can give them something solid that they can look at,” Marshall said. “It’s very beneficial so you can keep track of symptoms and patterns within your house.”

Saintz said the school has seen more families adopting this technology every year but it is still a small percentage. She hopes to get the information out to more parents and encourage them to participate.

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