COVID-19 screening tool is part of new app rolling out at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is moving ahead with plans to have students return to campus, and said it is rolling out a smartphone app to screen students and staff for COVID-19.

The safety app and screening tool is called “Hokie Ready.”

The app, which is available for download on both Android and iPhone platforms, asks users some basic questions: Have you traveled internationally in the last 14 days? Have you knowingly been exposed to somebody who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days?

Then, the app presents users with a list of symptoms that are common with COVID-19 and asks them to identify if they are feeling any of those types of symptoms.

“Based upon your answer to those questions, obviously, if you answer ‘no’ to all of them, the app will recommend that it’s safe for you to come to class, safe for you to come to work,” said Kevin Foust, Virginia Tech’s associate vice president for safety and security.

The app, which is available for download on both Android and iPhone platforms, asks users some basic questions. (Screenshot of the “Hokie Ready” app).

But, if you answer “yes” to any of the questions, the app will alert you that you probably should not go to class or to work on campus, and may want to seek further guidance from a medical provider.

Though the app will collect some data from the responses and send them to the university, Foust said it is important for people to understand this is not a contact tracing app, nor a tracking app.

“We are not collecting your personal identifiable information on this app,” he said. “We don’t ask for Social Security numbers; we don’t ask for dates of birth.”

Instead, the data is provided in an aggregate fashion, detailing how many people are answering “yes” to questions from the app. That is information that can be used to make university-wide decisions, he said.

“If we see our numbers beginning to increase, or if we see some patterns that look out of the normal to us, then maybe we can start digging a little further into some of our other mitigation strategies to try to figure out: Do we have an outbreak beginning here on campus?” Foust said.

The app also offers a number of other services to students, including emergency information, connections to campus police and security, interactive campus maps, and a “Friend Walk” feature that allows students to send their location to family or friends so they can keep tabs on them when they are walking to a destination alone.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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