Jackson Reopening Schools App Created by Alumni
Last March urban school districts had to close schools due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, almost a year later, many school districts are grappling with the question of how to reopen schools safely.
In response to this need, a new app designed by an alumnus of Mississippi’s Jackson Public Schools is providing a way for the district to monitor and track any student and staff exposure to COVID-19 so the school system can safely return to in-person learning.
The Safr Management App is a mobile app developed by Fred Burns, a 2009 graduate and valedictorian of his senior class at Jackson’s Wingfield High School. The app synchronizes with a desktop dashboard to track student and staff attendance and support temperature checks and contact tracing. In addition to contract tracing, the data will also inform decisions about initiating quarantines and allow targeted communications regarding those decisions.
At a demonstration to district officials, Burns showed how the app identifies individuals and provides interfaces for school administrators as well as parents and students. In December, the Jackson school board approved the district’s recommendation to include the Safr Management app as part of their Smart Restart plan for the transition to in-person and hybrid learning models.
Burns developed the idea for the app last summer after checking his children into their YMCA summer camp, a process that took about 45 minutes each day due to screenings and other paperwork.
“I realized there was product-market opportunity and did a lot of research, and realized that this was not just a problem at the YMCA, this is a problem all over,” Burns said in an interview with NTX Inno. “The product evolved from simply checking my kids into something that’s really comprehensive.”
In addition to the Jackson school system, other local organizations such as Jackson State University and Tougaloo College are also deploying the Safr Management app as part of their plans to reopen schools and reduce the spread.