As we continue to progress through the 2020-2021 school year, we are grateful that our doors remain open and our students are safe. Together with the implementation of our reopening plan, our partnership with Base Camp Health for early COVID-19 detection has allowed our start to be a success.
The School Reopening Decision
Ensuring a safe and healthy environment for our students and staff to come back to our campus was a top priority.
“We’ve heard kids across the years say that being in school is one of the safe places that they have,” said Renton Prep Executive Director Dr. Michelle Zimmerman. “It’s one place that they hear affirmation from teachers saying ‘I care about you.’”
She stayed eager and hopeful to make an in-person return to school possible. To prepare for the semester, Dr. Zimmerman spent the summer reading journals and interviewing a wide range of subject-matter experts.
“If at that point, they had told me, ‘no, you have no business opening. This is something you should not even approach,’ I wouldn’t have gone any farther,” Dr. Zimmerman said. “But because of things that I heard from them and different mitigation techniques they were using themselves, I thought, ‘okay, this is a possibility.’”
With early communication, clear measurements, and expert input — we put an official plan to reopen in place.
Returning to School Safely with Base Camp Health
Our robust reopening plan required technology to implement it effectively. For effective safety on campus, Base Camp Health offered the opportunity for symptom screenings, contact tracing, and rapid communication. This technology is incredibly intelligent, having visibility into infection spreading and evaluation of risk for any individual. In addition, Base Camp Health’s mobile-friendly platform, Ascend, makes all of this possible remotely.
Ascend gives us insight into who will be on campus for the day. Before anyone arrives, screenings and evaluations of risk have already taken place. We can then stagger entry rather than all of the students and staff arriving at one time.
“Ascend gives our community a daily reminder of the things we’re looking for, along with personalized messaging that makes clear who should and shouldn’t be on campus as opposed to the amount of work it would take an administrative team or staff to keep up that cadence of reminders and communications,” Dr. Zimmerman said.
Putting the Technology to Work
Near the start of the new school year, a staff member received a positive COVID-19 test. Ascend caught the case early and instantly communicated to faculty, staff, students, and families. Correspondingly, Renton Prep arranged resources to cover for the staff member and initiated communication with the health department. We took effective action for immediate results
Without this technology, we could have missed the case of COVID-19, or detected after it had spread. The staff member was asymptomatic and likely would have continued coming to campus had Ascend not been so instrumental. No other individuals came down with COVID-19. In fact, it was “stopped in its tracks.”
“We’ve had a lot more families who are staying remote that have asked if they can come back in person,” Dr. Zimmerman said. “They see that there’s a difference in education when kids interact with each other and when teachers interact, but I think they’re seeing a level of safety and security that they feel more confident that the mitigation techniques are working, and that Ascend is contributing to that.”
To learn more about what Base Camp Health is doing for school reopening with Ascend, visit their website.