Smart thermometers read school trends before illness spreads

Posted at 5:52 PM, Feb 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-16 17:52:33-05

HOWARD CITY, Mich. -- Flu season is not over yet, with the CDC saying this year's flu vaccine is less than 40 percent effective. To help stop illness from spreading, one West Michigan school is using smart phone technology with thermometers.

MacNaughton Elementary in the Tri County Area Schools is one of 11 schools statewide using "smart thermometers" and its app through the Kinsa health program. MacNaughton School Nurse Christine Dailey earned the grant last year and received about 170 thermometers for school families.

By using the smart thermometers connected to the app, parents anonymously share their child's temperature and symptoms with participating school families, which charts any sickness trends at school. The app also provides tips for parents based on symptoms, tracks any medicine given and allows parents to communicate with Dailey from home.

"As a parent, it’s a great tool because sometimes you don’t know when you’re up with your little one in the middle of the night, and you think, 'when did I last give Tylenol?' explained Dailey. "You’re able to track it on that app."

The goal is to stay ahead of illness and stop its spread. So far at MacNaughton it appears to be working: since using the smart thermometers beginning late January, the school's attendance has stayed above 88 percent. Meanwhile, some neighboring school districts in West Michigan closed for up to three days earlier this year due to the flu.

"Our parents have done a great job keeping us informed, keeping their students home when they're sick, and that’s one thing the thermometer did a great job on, too: is keeping parents aware, giving them tips on how to help their student," said Angela Ringler, MacNaughton secretary and parent of three.

If other educators are interested in this program for their school, the grant application is available on the Kinsa website.