August 21, 2020

As the university prepares for fall,  a new daily tracker has been developed to monitor the health of the students, faculty, and staff who will be physically returning to campus, and help detect the onset or progression of COVID-19 symptoms.. 

The Symptom Tracker— accessible through smartphone apps and WPI’s website—will connect community members with health resources quickly and easily, and also will provide critical information to the university as part of ongoing efforts to help protect the health and safety of the WPI campus community during the pandemic. 

Beginning on August 24, any employees and students who are coming to campus (at all) in A- or B-Term are required to complete the Symptom Tracker daily, even if they are working or taking classes remotely for that particular day. Everyone’s symptoms need to be tracked daily because they likely have recently been on campus. 

Only remote employees and students, who will have absolutely no access to campus, are exempt from using the Symptom Tracker. However, should employees working totally remotely experience COVID-related symptoms, they should enter those symptoms and absence in the tracker, so WPI can track all COVID-19 related time, and ensure that personal sick time is not being used.  

The IT Services team worked with the COVID Health Behaviors Group to build this new functionality using Microsoft Power Apps—a suite of apps, services, and connectors that allowed WPI to create a custom tool with automation to make entering and following up on symptoms easy. This is a secure tool that uses individual’s WPI credentials and multi-factor authentication.

The tracker will keep information confidential, only reporting to —and accessible by—WPI’s trained staff at Health Services, Talent and Inclusion, and Environmental Health and Safety. The university is partnering with Microsoft to store this data in an encrypted cloud-based database.  

The Symptom Tracker is being designed to make it easy for users to report information about themselves and their health. Anyone who has symptoms, has been in close contact with an infected individual, or has a positive COVID-19 test result will be required to stay at home and not come onto campus. It generally takes about 3 minutes to use the tracker- 2 minutes to take your temperature and less than a minute to answer a few questions.  Daily use of the Symptom Tracker is an important part of the university’s overall health and safety plans, which include:

  • Routine testing of all students, faculty, and staff who will be on campus
  • Safety protocols, including social distancing measures
  • Reconfiguration of classrooms and campus spaces
  • Additional Health Services staff
  • TechFlex, a reworking of teaching and learning that allows for online, in-person, and hybrid options, giving students and faculty the flexibility to choose the options that are best for them and their loved ones.

Each day, before leaving their residence hall or home, all members of the WPI community who work, take classes, and/or reside on campus will take their temperature and then answer basic questions: 

  • Are you experiencing COVID symptoms, such as a fever over 100 degrees F., chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, muscle/body aches, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting, etc.?
  • Have you come in "close contact" with someone diagnosed with COVID in the last 14 days? A close contact means living in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, caring for a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, being within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more, or coming in direct contact with secretions, such as sharing utensils or being coughed on, from a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, while that person was symptomatic.
  • Have you been asked to self-isolate or quarantine by a doctor or health official in the last 14 days?
  • Do you feel well?

WPI’s Testing Coordinator will monitor the results daily and connect with those who report any symptoms. 

Students who report symptoms, those who've had close contact with someone who has tested positive, and/or those who've had a positive test result themselves will receive a message or a phone call about next steps. They will be directed to communicate with Health Services and to follow quarantine isoilation guidelines, as required.

Faculty and staff who report symptoms, close contact with someone who has tested positive, and/or a positive test result themselves also will receive instructions about next steps. Employees will be advised to leave campus and stay home, to call their personal care provider to seek guidance, and to notify their supervisor. They may also be asked to follow isolation or quarantine guidelines.

While students and employees will be required to enter their information into Symptom Tracker every day before going to campus, they also will be instructed to enter information again immediately after being informed they have tested positive for COVID-19, or have learned that they’ve come in close contact with someone with COVID-19.

There are multiple easy ways to access the Symptom Tracker – via the WPI mobile app, through Microsoft Power Apps, or via the WPI website. 

Users can also access the Symptom Tracker on their WPI mobile app, finding it under “Quick Links” on the main screen. Clicking on Symptom Tracker then will take you to Power Apps where you can use the tracker. (You’ll be directed to download Power Apps from the Apple Store or the Google Play store upon your first visit. After that,  you’ll be linked directly to the Symptom Tracker.) Power Apps will remember who you are so you won’t need to log in every day.

More detailed instructions can be found here.

The WPI Mobile App—which offers a wide variety of information about the university—is available free from the Apple Store or Google Play Store. At the start of every year, Marketing Communications encourages students, faculty, and staff to use the app which often offers new features. This year, those new features include Quick Links to the Symptom Tracker, as well as testing time registration, scheduling for use of labs and the Sports and Recreation Center, which is available for student use only until further notice. The app will not need to be updated to include the new symptom tracker function; the tracker and other new features will appear automatically.