KU requiring daily health screenings for students and faculty to enter buildings

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — After campus and the rest of the world shut down in March, students will start moving back in to the University of Kansas on Thursday.

But this year, they won’t just be getting keys to their dorm room. They’ll get a “CV,” or coronavirus key, as well.

KU research professor Brian McClendon knew students would be tested for coronavirus before returning to class on Aug. 24, but that only really covers day one.

“When I looked at what was happening, I looked at the numbers, and I realized economically this could do to our community to our country was huge,” McClendon said.

So he co-founded the CV Key Project.

“It is a secure certificate that the scanner can test that shows you have the health status to get in the building,” McClendon demonstrated.

All students will have to download the app to get into pretty much any building on campus other than their dorm. It requires both students and faculty to fill out a daily survey about symptoms and possible exposures. Pass the test and you can request passes for each building you’ll need.

The university said 250 kiosks have been placed around campus, and building monitors will make sure they are used. 

Symptoms don’t automatically disqualify you, but will lead to follow-up questions, which could provide an alternative explanation for that headache like a hangover. Or the app might ask you to call the Watkins Health Services for further guidance.

“I just feel like a lot of students aren’t going to be honest and also a lot of people aren’t showing any symptoms,” said Sherry, a KU senior.

Students are being asked to take a pledge to protect KU together, which includes the personal health screenings and staying home if you’re sick. The app may be as much about psychology as science.

“One of the concerns is I’m taking care of myself, but what is everybody else doing? I think what this gives is you at least know that each one of the folks is being reminded every day to look at themselves and look at their behavior,” McClendon said.

KU hopes to avoid another situation like the University of North Carolina’s 135 positive tests this week that sent classes back online.

“Any way to not have people get the virus is welcome,” KU freshman Bhakti Nilaweera said.

Right now the system is not going to be tracking which students were in which buildings for any sort of contact tracing, but pretty soon they will be using the camera on the kiosks to make sure everyone is wearing masks for entry.

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