Why a college is sharing its digital COVID checker

William & Mary's Daily Health Check monitor symptoms and safe behaviors

William & Mary is sharing its digital health tracker via open-source with all institutions in Virginia to monitor for COVID symptoms on mobile apps and websites.

The free “Daily Health Check” tool also reminds users about the actions and healthy habits that prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“There are a lot of institutions in Virginia, both public and private, that don’t have the resources to do this,”  said Corinne Picataggi, the university’s chief technology officer. “By taking a collaborative approach, the team essentially extended a hand; we delivered an open-source solution that can be used by anyone.”

All of the university’s students, faculty and staff—on and off campus—will be directed to take the Daily Health Check’s four-question survey each day to monitor themselves for symptoms.

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The IT tool also will remind users to wear a mask, practice social distancing, avoid large crowds and wash hands frequently.

Students and employees will get a daily prompt, followed by a push reminder, if they have not completed the daily check within 48 hours. If the check is not completed within 72 hours, an individual’s university IT services may be temporarily frozen.

“If you are going to be on our campus this fall, the Daily Health Check will become a part of your regular routine,” Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler said. “When students are in an environment where they see people around them doing the things that support our ability to persist, that’s going to be reassuring and will support the mental health of our community.”

The tool also includes links to other several public health resources:

  • COVIDWISE: A Virginia Department of Health smartphone app for COVID-19 exposure notifications.
  • Bite by Sodexo: An app that lets students order food online for pickup at one of William & Mary’s dining halls.
  • Space Finder: A digital resource that measures crowd density at the university’s public spaces to help users avoid crowds.
  • Kallaco: A mobile app that allows users to track COVID-19 tests.

“To be successful this year, we must make a commitment to each other,” Picataggi said. “This tool reminds us to make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing to help the community stay well.”

COVID collaboration

William & Mary helped other Virginia universities develop their own health monitoring tools.

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Amira Roess, professor of global health and epidemiology at George Mason University, drafted the higher ed-specific questions for the health tracker.

William & Mary’s developers also guided the other schools on integrating the health checker into mobile apps, pulling data out of the platforms and customizing the tool to fit individual institutional policies.

“In addition to the tool, working together to understand how we’re all tackling the same problem allowed for various perspectives and ideas to be incorporated,” Picataggi said.


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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