While flu season’s peak is expected to arrive this month and next, Millsap ISD nurses and parents are trying to stay ahead of the curve.
During the fall, MISD was accepted into the FLUency School Health Program. Parents were given free smart thermometers, which connect to a cell phone application that allows school nurses and parents to see what illnesses are catching on among students.
MISD is one of 500 other schools and districts (mostly elementary schools) nationwide participating in the program. Though other schools have applied, MISD is the only district in Parker County to be involved with FLUency.
FLUency School Program Director Jared Flamm said about 75 families and MISD staff registered for the thermometers and app.
“We are fortunate to have nurses who constantly seek proactive measures to help our Bulldogs stay in good physical condition,” MISD Superintendent Deann Lee said. “The Kinsa thermometer program is yet another example of how MISD endeavors to partner with others in innovative ways to support the success of our students.”
Kinsa, the smart thermometer company behind the program, was created in 2012 to stop illnesses from spreading, Flamm said. The program is supposed to help lower the amount of time that kids are absent from classes and keep sick kids at home and healthy kids at school.
When a child shows symptoms of illness, their parent or guardian would take their temperature with the smart thermometer and be able to anonymously share their child’s symptoms on the app, Flamm said. Posting to MISD’s private group on the app informs other parents and school nurses on circulating illnesses. The app also gives guidance to parents in terms of treating their child’s illness.
“We would have nurses who would talk to us during like user studies and say, ‘Hey, every Monday morning there’s a line of sick kiddos who are outside of my health clinic because their families may or may not have a working thermometer,’” Flamm said. “We’ve seen that that’s been really effective in getting people this really critical health device for free.”
The program benefits parents by the simple act of providing thermometers, MISD Nurse Kim Severson said.
“That in itself is an asset because I’m not sure that everyone did, or everyone does [have thermometers],” Severson said.
The app has provided awareness to the community on the circulating illnesses and has been well-received by nurses and parents, Severson said.
Because of the program, parents can detect illnesses earlier and begin taking necessary actions, Severson said. The app allows Severson to better communicate with parents about the illnesses going around.
Though the program mostly is employed at elementary schools, the one at MISD is for the whole district. This is important for the MISD students who have siblings at other schools and could affect each other’s symptoms, Severson said.
“In relation to family, they’re living together, and they’re coming to school here on different campuses, so in my eyes, it should encompass the whole district rather than just being segregated because when our students go home, they’re surrounded by everyone else,” Severson said.