Dunaway enrolls new kindergarten students in program that uses thermometer, app to track school illnesses

For a second year, Dunaway Elementary in Waxahachie is among nearly 200 elementary schools in Texas participating in a national school-health program that purports to fight illnesses in classrooms with the help of smart thermometers.

Developed by Kinsa – a company that makes smart thermometers and tracks the flu in real time – the FLUency program allows parents to keep abreast of school sickness by connecting smart thermometers to the Kinsa app and obtain anonymous information about illnesses on the rise in their child’s grade.

“I get parents all the time that ask me, ‘Is something going around, is something going around?’ and I don’t always see what’s going around…” Dunaway School Nurse Tina Masten-Mitchell said. “I only know what’s going around if a parent calls me and tells me or if it’s a child that’s actually sent home. So this is just another tool to look and see what parents have entered into the app… It’s just another source to find out what might be going around in the school.”

The company said the program was founded with the mission of stopping the spread of infectious ailments.

“It gives people information in real time that will get them better faster,” said Nita Nehru, a Kinsa spokeswoman. “So, they take a temperature and right after that the app is able to guide them through the next6 steps for what they should do to get their loved ones better. We’re also able to give them more information on preventative behaviors they should be taking to stop the spread of illness…”

Masten-Mitchell said all Dunaway students were enrolled last year and parents took home a free thermometer. This year, Kinsa provided thermometers for the parents of new kindergarten students. Shackelford and Margaret L. Felty elementary schools have also participated in the program.

The FDA-approved thermometers cost about $20 and can be purchased at retailers like Walgreens, Target and Amazon.

“I wish more people would use it,” Masten-Mitchell stated. “I hope that it’s going to be successful over the long term. I know that parents that do use it really like it. Everything is just hard to get people to enroll in, in general, but I think it’s a great tool if they’ll use it.”

The school nurse added that parents who deem themselves technologically challenged would have no trouble using the app due to its simplicity.

“It is a super simple app,” Masten-Michell assured. “The only thing is that you have to have a smartphone, but it’s not hard to use at all. You just take the temperature. It automatically goes into the app once you’ve opened it up and then you just hit your symptoms. So, if they can register their child for school online… they should be able to do this without having any problems.”

The company said over 1400 schools nationwide are participating in the program this flu season.