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School District using technology to keep kids in the classroom

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    MARION COUNTY, Oregon (KPTV) — Students in the Gervais School District have returned to class and they are using technology in the fight against COVID-19. Students and staff are wearing a special lanyard while at school, attached is a device that tracks who they’ve come in contact with.

The district says they information collected is important in the event that someone has been exposed to the virus.

“The health authority is really clear that if you can’t provide evidence of who has been closer than six feet or within three feet for 15 minutes or longer, their default is just to quarantine everyone and we knew we couldn’t manage that,” Gervais School District Superintendent Dandy Stevens said.

The devices buzz and flash red when another one comes within six feet for a certain amount of time and records that information which is logged each day.

“We found that the devices had been used with the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA bubble, the NCAA Tournament just used it and we thought, well this is, this going to meet our needs,” Stevens said.

The district says that if there is a COVID-19 issue, within seconds they can notify anyone who may have been exposed.

“Gathering the information from this device it took us about 30 seconds to determine who we needed to contact compared to previously when we were using paper pencil would could take several hours and was often very inaccurate,” Stevens said.

The devices do not use GPS to track students. The district stress the devices only record if they’ve come in contact with another device for a certain period of time.

The district says the technology is working well and says early on some parents were skeptical, but it has worked to ease those concerns. The district says 13 of more than 400 students have opted out.

“Using the technology has really provided us with that opportunity to be able to focus on keeping everyone safe and in the building which is priority,” Stevens said.

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