Our entire community benefits from each individual’s completion of this task.

On July 10th, Mike Cain—Parker’s Director of Risk and Asset Management—introduced the emocha symptoms monitoring app with those words. As part of Parker’s Return to Campus roadmap, all members of the community planning to enter campus will be required to use the emocha app at home to record any symptoms, input their temperature readings, and report exposure to COVID-19. Parker’s partnership with emocha is a crucial component of reopening campus.

While the Parker community made a rapid and impressive transition to online learning this past March, giving students and faculty the opportunity to come back to campus was a priority. “With the Francis Parker education, it’s really the experience, the special classes, and those are not easy things to switch over to online learning,” Mike Cain said. “Our faculty did an amazing job adapting to it, and as a parent of a student at Parker, it was amazing to me.”

Parker’s mission and vision, as articulated by Head of School Kevin Yaley, aims to preserve the excellence and integrity of a Parker education and maintain our commitment to the well-being and connectedness of the entire Parker community
. “If you know we are a mission-centered organization, and you read the priorities, and you look at the vision and mission, what’s the alternative to going back to campus?” Cain asked.

This commitment to a return-to-campus made a robust health and safety plan essential. “We care about everybody. But to have school in person, you need teachers to show up,” Cain said. Creating an environment in which teachers could feel safe coming to work was a priority, and a first step was ensuring that anyone with signs of illness would stay home.

In April, Cain began to envision what resuming classes on campus could look like, and which community mitigation strategies would be needed to protect the Parker community and reduce the risk of transmission. He turned to an unlikely source: public health guidelines in use at schools in Singapore, who were far ahead of American schools in contemplating reopening procedures. From this research, Cain presented a framework to the school on the three tiers of contact exposure, and a way to return to campus with an extensive screening system in place. A manual screening process at drop-off required too many people, lacked the security necessary for protected health information, and would be sensitive to human error. Cain began looking for a tech-enabled solution, and encountered emocha’s name in a Twitter search for symptoms screening: learning that use of emocha’s dashboards and analytics allow educational administrators to make data-driven decisions to resume on-campus activities for their subgroup of a County’s population.

At the time, emocha had just launched its symptom monitoring service for over 38,000 employees of Johns Hopkins-affiliated hospitals. Initially created by Hopkins researchers treating HIV in rural Uganda, emocha’s mobile application is now a leading medication adherence platform for public health departments, hospitals, health centers, and managed care organizations across the globe for patients with diabetes, tuberculosis, asthma, and other chronic and infectious diseases. During the Ebola crisis, emocha’s platform was used to monitor all travelers who entered the State of Maryland from affected areas for symptoms. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, emocha rapidly pivoted and launched its symptoms monitoring platform and service—first for healthcare professionals exposed to COVID-19, and then to employers and educational institutions looking for a way to reopen while reducing the risk of transmission of the virus.

The partnership between Francis Parker School and emocha represents new horizons for both: for Parker, a chance to try an innovative solution to an unprecedented pandemic, and for emocha, the opportunity to implement a tried and tested symptoms monitoring solution at a K-12 school. Over the next few weeks, emocha and Parker will together work to answer questions and share with the community what a reimagined campus will look like for academic year 2020-2021. In just a few short weeks, parents and students will begin using the app before setting foot on campus. “I’m not overly confident that everyone will come to School September 8th,” Mike Cain said. “But the first week of July—to say we have an app—that’s a confidence-builder.”

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