Covid screening tool sets stage for return to campuses
With some higher education students returning to on-campus activities as part of the Department of Education, Science and Innovation’s phased re-introduction plan, a special Covid-19 daily screening and monitoring tool has been launched.
Aptly called HealthCheck, this digital tool has been purpose-built by the department’s Higher Health unit, and all TVET college students and staff will need to register for and use it on a daily basis in order to enter their campuses.
HealthCheck is accessed through one’s cellphone (a smartphone is not required), and is available in various platforms, including Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), WhatsApp or simple web-based.
“HealthCheck is secure to use by students and staff entering our campuses daily to self-check their body temperature,” explained Minister Blade Nzimande in a statement, adding that this data would then be linked to the Department of Health’s tracking system.
“All students and staff – approximately two million people – will be required to register for HealthCheck and use it every day to assess their own level of risk prior to entering campuses.”
Based on the answers entered on the platform, the person will receive a message with a low, moderate or high level risk reading. If the risk is low, the individual will receive clearance valid for 24 hours.
“The tool allows for early detection, mapping and management of Covid-19 cases within higher education institutions and feeds into the national Department of Health tracking and tracing system,” said Nzimande.
In addition to developing HealthCheck, Higher Health is also providing the Department with guidelines for all post school education and training institutions that deal specifically with mental heath. The unit had previously provided detailed Covid-19 guidelines on prevention and how to take care of the physical health of students and staff. However, the mental health of both staff and students is seen as equally important, and appropriate guidelines have now also been developed to deal with this. The guidelines also look at substance abuse, which can be a serious challenge among students, especially during the Covid-19 epidemic.