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School to provide wearable COVID-19 tracing devices for students, staff

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    MARION COUNTY, Oregon (KPTV) — New COVID-19 tracing technology is being implemented at Gervais schools is getting some pushback from parents.

When middle and high school students go back to campus, they’ll have the option to wear a lanyard that keeps track of social distancing, alerting students when they get too close to each other.

“A contact tracing badge, it’s a little device the size of a pager,” Dandy Stevens, superintendent of Gervais SD, said, describing the device.

A lanyard can be assigned to each student and given to them at the beginning of each day.

“What it’s meant to do is provide reminders when we get too close,” Stevens said.

Stevens said the devices are set to alert students when they get within six feet of each other.

“As you pass another device it does a small vibration then there’s a light that flashes red. That indicates you’re within six feet. What happens is that in 30 second increments it records the amount of time you’re within six feet of that other device,” Stevens said.

Some parents on social media weren’t pleased when they found out about this new device, saying there has to be a better way to keep kids safe. Stevens said she’s also heard parents concerned this device will track their children.

“It in no way tells me the location of a student or staff member at any time,” Stevens said.

She said students will not be punished if they come within six feet of each other for too long, but said this system is meant to prevent unnecessary mass quarantines.

“It could bring up my name, say, and it would say these are all the contacts Dandy had. Then I would go through and identify ok how many people for 15 minutes or more? These two people and then we have that information for contact tracing,” she said.

These devices will be left at school at the end of each day to be scanned in and sanitized. Stevens said parents do have the option to opt out if they don’t want their student wearing one.

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