Classroom QR codes stimulate contact tracing at U. Maryland

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The University of Maryland recently began using QR codes to collect data on the location of students to support its COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.

When a student scans a classroom QR code at College Park University, information – including the time, date, and student ID number – is sent to the Department of Health Services at the university. If there is a confirmed case of exposure to the coronavirus, health services can use the information collected to support their contact tracing efforts.

Each room is equipped with QR codes according to their capacity: in large conference rooms QR codes are placed for each seat, but in small rooms the codes are attached to the seating areas.

When county health officials asked the university to develop a classroom contact tracing system, the QR code solution saved instructors from having to develop seating maps or pass around handouts. classroom attendance, said Marcio Oliveira, the university’s assistant vice president of academic technology. and innovation.

“If we think of a classroom of 250 students, sometimes the students arrive late,” he told EdScoop. “If the pupils arrive a little late, the sheet has already passed and [they] you have to scramble to find it.

Oliveira said instructors are encouraged to remind students before class to register. An independent system directly connected to health services also allows students to use the system without fear of their presence being shown to the instructor or used for grading, he added.

The university will delete unused data within 28 days, according to its website, although “anonymized and summarized data may be retained longer to aid campus COVID-19 response efforts.” Oliveira said he expects QR codes to be in the majority of classrooms by the end of the week.

QR codes became popular during the coronavirus pandemic to encourage social distancing practices, such as scanning a link to a menu instead of a hard copy in a restaurant. The University of Maryland is one of the few institutions to use classroom-level codes for contact tracing.

Higher education institutions are making extensive use of mobile apps, meanwhile, to manage the pandemic on campus, requiring students to inquire about any symptoms before coming to campus or to download vaccination cards through the application.

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