W&M launches daily health app

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Hampton Roads - By Alex Perry Staff writer Alex Perry, 757-285-9397, alexan­der.perry@vir­gini­a­me­dia.com

More in­for­ma­tion was re­leased this week on the tech­nol­ogy, data and other re­sources that will guide the Col­lege of Wil­liam & Mary through the COVID-19 pan­demic this fall as stu­dents re­turn to cam­pus.

The col­lege an­nounced its new “Daily Health Check” ap­pli­ca­tion on Wed­nes­day, which stu­dents and fac­ulty will use to mon­i­tor their phys­i­cal health. This will be on the univer­sity’s mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion and web­site as part of its Healthy To­gether mod­ule.

This new ap­pli­ca­tion is an­other as­pect of the cul­ture of com­pli­ance that the school plans to fos­ter dur­ing the fall se­mes­ter in or­der to help safe­guard stu­dents, fac­ulty and the sur­round­ing Wil­liams­burg com­mu­nity.

Panelists in a vir­tual Wil­liam & Mary Town Hall ses­sion Wed­nes­day answered questions about the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process for their Path For­ward plan, and data in­form­ing those de­ci­sions.

“When you look at the stud­ies that come out of the spread of COVID in any kind of con­gre­gate en­vi­ron­ment, the No .1 dis­tin­guish er is whether or not masks were used ubiq­ui­tously by ev­ery­one,” Wil­liam & Mary Pres­i­dent Kather­ine Rowe said dur­ing the town hall. “So we’re go­ing over­board on the start on this one. We’re go­ing to be very, very con­ser­va­tive, and we’re gonna be re­ally con­sis­tent in re­quir­ing masks, and there will be peo­ple who say this is way over­board, but that is the right place to start.”

Wil­liam & Mary is work­ing closely with the city of Wil­liams­burg in this tran­si­tion back to cam­pus, to ad­dress the con­cerns from the com­mu­nity, and to help safe­guard the health of com­mu­nity mem­bers, as well as the stu­dents, Rowe said.

She said these guide­lines are about pro­tect­ing the health of oth­ers and ap­ply to stu­dents liv­ing both on and off cam­pus. There will be con­se­quences for those who do not fol­low these guide­lines, but the col­lege is also go­ing to help peo­ple fol­low these guide­lines through train­ing and other re­sources.

Rowe also en­cour­aged mem­bers of the Wil­liams­burg com­mu­nity to fol­low the same prac­tices stu­dents and fac­ulty will ad­here to this fall.

“The na­tion and our re­gion hasn’t shared and hasn’ t de­vel­oped a com­mon set of norms, and we need them — we re­ally need them — to be able to make it through this pan­demic to­gether rather than apart, and we will be much more suc­cess­ful if all of Wil­liams­burg joins us in them,” Rowe said.

There will be ad­di­tional sig­nage on cam­pus for safety pro­to­cols and route changes, such as one-way traf­fic on stair­cases, ac­cord­ing to Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Amy Se­bring. Tents will be added to help en­cour­age peo­ple to go out­side in spa­ces that al­low for so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

“(We’re) mak­ing a lot of changes to what the cam­pus looks like,” Se­bring said, “how we move about cam­pus, in ways that are most ef­fec­tive and re­ally con­sis­tent with what we’re try­ing to do in terms of cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment that is re­duc­ing the like­li­hood of spread of the virus.”

Wil­liam & Mary is look­ing at both na­tional and re­gional data, and is work­ing on a dash­board that will make it eas­ier to sort through this in­for­ma­tion and to track com­mu­nity in­fec­tions.

“That’s go­ing to help to guide our de­ci­sion-mak­ing in the fu­ture,” said Dr. Vir­ginia Wells, chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer for Wil­l­liam & Mary ath­let­ics and a mem­ber of school’s pub­lic health ad­vi­sory team. “But it’s im­por­tant for ev­ery­one to un­der­stand that as a state in­sti­tu­tion, we’re lim­ited in what health in­for­ma­tion we can share about stu­dents and em­ploy­ees, and we’re gonna take great care to be in com­pli­ance with re­quired pri­vacy.”

Wells ex­plained some of the fac­tors that are go­ing into the thresh­old cri­te­ria for de­ci­sions this fall, whether it may be to go fully on­line or more in-per­son dur­ing the se­mes­ter. These fac­tors in­clude the rate of in­fec­tion, the turn­around time for test re­sults, the school’s abil­ity to iso­late and quar­an­tine, and the re­gional ca­pac­ity of hos­pi­tal beds.

“We’ll also look at our ef­fec­tive­ness of our so­cial norm­ing,” Wells said. “How good are our stu­dents at mask wear­ing, at avoid­ing large gath­er­ings, at hand wash­ing and at so­cial dis­tanc­ing? Those sorts of things.”

The Daily Health Check ap­pli­ca­tion will pro­vide guid­ance for users who may have COVID-19 symp­toms or who are not prac­tic­ing healthy habits this fall.

Ac­cord­ing to Wed­nes­day’s news re­lease, Wil­liam & Mary will di­rect stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff, on and off cam­pus, to take the Daily Health Check’s four-ques­tion sur­vey. There will be questions about wear­ing masks, phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing, avoid­ing large crowds and wash­ing hands fre­quently and thor­oughly.

Stu­dents and em­ploy­ees will get a daily prompt, fol­lowed by a push re­minder if they have not com­pleted a daily check within 48 hours. If the check is not com­pleted within 72 hours, then ad­di­tional mea­sures will be taken. This may in­clude tem­po­rar­ily freez­ing some of the in­di­vid­ual’s IT ser­vices un­til the check is com­pleted.

“We are cre­at­ing a cul­ture of com­pli­ance that re­quires com­mu­nity mem­bers to take an ac­tive role in their per­sonal health and well­ness,” vice pres­i­dent for stu­dent af­fairs Ginger Am­bler said in the re­lease. “We do that partly by set­ting clear ex­pec­ta­tions and also em­pow­er­ing peo­ple with the tools and in­for­ma­tion they need to be com­pli­ant. If you are go­ing to be on our cam­pus this fall, the Daily Health Check will be­come a part of your reg­u­lar rou­tine.”

Ac­cord­ing to Chief Tech­nol­ogy Of­fi­cer Corinne Pi­cataggi, the data is col­lected in a way that pro­tects user pri­vacy. Wil­liam & Mary is track­ing whether an in­di­vid­ual uses the app but is not ac­cess­ing the spe­cific in­for­ma­tion users pro­vide dur­ing their daily health checks. The Healthy To­gether mod­ule will also fea­ture links to other pub­lic health re­sources.

Wil­liam & Mary col­lab­o­rated with uni­ver­si­ties through­out Vir­ginia to de­velop this vir­tual tool, and helped other Vir­ginia uni­ver­si­ties de­velop tools sim­i­lar to the Daily Health Check, ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease.

“To be suc­cess­ful this year, we must make a com­mit­ment to each other,” Pi­cataggi said in the news re­lease. “This tool re­minds us to make sure we’re do­ing what we’re sup­posed to be do­ing to help the com­mu­nity stay well.”


“We’re go­ing to be very, very con­ser­va­tive,” W&M Pres­i­dent Kather­ine Rowe said re­gard­ing masks.

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