How universities are using technology in their COVID precautions

Across the nation, higher-ed leaders are grappling with the question of how they will ensure a continued safe on-campus environment for students, faculty, and staff in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact tracing and location technologies play a large part in universities’ ability to monitor adherence to safety protocols such as social distancing and track potential COVID cases.

Fall marked an uncertain time for colleges and universities—and while some made it through face-to-face and hybrid semesters, others were forced to abruptly return to virtual learning following pockets of COVID-19 outbreaks. With winter break imminent, university officials know their handling of COVID safety protocols will be under a microscope.

When evaluating how they handled campus reopenings this fall, most colleges and universities acknowledge that they have not earned high marks, according to a Kaplan survey of admissions officers at more than 300 institutions of higher learning across the United States.

When asked to grade to their industry’s ‘reopening’ performance as a whole, taking into account factors like implementing new safety precautions, delivering courses, and communicating with students and parents, only 4 percent gave an A; 36 percent gave a B; 51 percent, a C; 9 percent, a D; and 1 percent, an F.

Innovative technologies for COVID—and beyond

At Dominican University (DU) in Illinois, university leaders have thought hard about how to manage the campus in order to keep commuters and resident students safe. DU normally houses 600-650 students, though this semester, all residences have been mandated single-occupancy, lowering the number of on-campus residents to about 400. Most of the university’s approximately 3,200 students are commuters.

Part of the DU’s COVID strategy includes a mask mandate, issuing social distancing guidelines, and using the #CampusClear app for self-monitoring and reporting. Another key part is Kiana Analytics‘ Contact Tracing and Facilities Management cloud-based digital platform, which leverages an institution’s existing Wi-Fi network (DU’s Wi-Fi partner, Extreme Networks, helped ensure a smooth launch) and uses device-based detection and location-based analytics to help stop the spread of the virus.