Cambridgeshire Schools Pilot provides valuable insights to managing COVID-19

The CAM Academy Trust led by CEO Stephen Munday CBE engaged with Synoptic in August 2020 to develop out an engaged and in depth Reactivate pilot, initially carried out over two schools in Cambridgeshire. A truly collaborative project where constant feedback led to rapid innovation to deliver a solution that solved the myriad of problems identified in operating a school safely through a pandemic. This included daily digital symptomatic screening, PCR testing, isolation management and lateral flow based asymptomatic screening. Initially a primary school was given access to the app and was granted user licences to its 16 staff and 5 sets of parents (chosen at random) who, between them had 10 pupils at the school. At the secondary school, an initial 65 of the 205 members of staff were given access to the app. Additionally, 20 CAM Academy Trust staff were given the app. The pilot was subsequently expanded to cover thousands of students and households across multiple schools.

Using an entirely new approach, Reactivate securely connected to the schools’ pre-existing database of staff in order to determine verified user identity and present daily isolation status in an administration portal. Mobile apps were then provisioned by sending the link to the official Apple App Store and Google Play Store via text message to every selected member of staff. Once the app had been downloaded and the user verified using two factor authentication, the daily process required that each user completed a brief symptomatic screening question in the app before entering the school premises. Reporting ‘no symptoms’ allowed the user to provide visibility to the school prior to entering the premises, whilst reporting symptoms in line with Government guidelines required the user to stay at home and start isolation until a PCR test request was provisioned by the school and sent direct to their home. The outcome of the PCR test either confirmed COVID-19 and reported the status to the local PHE authority and the school, or confirmed a negative which enabled the user to return to school. Within the Reactivate management console the COVID-19 status of every user is visible as it is reported in real-time.

Within two weeks of the pilot Synoptic found that nine out of ten teachers who were having to isolate were doing so because members of their household had either been infected, potentially exposed, or had symptoms listed by Government guidelines of COVID-19, and not because they themselves were symptomatic. This still prevented these teachers from attending work which had immediate financial ramifications for the school through having to take on supply teachers for a prolonged period of time that put it at greater risk of having to shut down. The need to bridge this gap between a private household and the school became apparent, clearly highlighted by this point. Synoptics approach to solving this problem was achieved by providing visibility of the household isolation status, whilst retaining individual user privacy in line with the GDPR as they were not employed by the school, enabling the school to understand the reason for a teachers absence from work in real-time so that PCR tests could be provisioned, not only for the teacher, but for their household members, enabling teachers to return to work in a quick and efficient manner.

By enabling the provision of testing to both school employees and their household members enabled staff to return to work sooner.  Synoptic provisioning PCR tests which were self-administered under medical guidance and then sent to a Public Health England accredited lab for analysis. The results were delivered via the Reactivate App and the Administration Dashboard within 48 hours. Provisioning PCR tests to teachers and their household meant Synoptic was able to ensure teachers were able to return to work within 48 hours (result dependant), rather than quarantine for 14 days.

As the pilot continued and iterations of the Reactivate solution were deployed, Synoptic was able to supply CE marked rapid antigen tests, overseen by a GMC licensed medical professional which provided results within 15 minutes. This enabled screening capabilities which could be recorded and monitored on a regular basis, and formed the first line of asymptomatic detection in situations where no probable cause through reported symptoms was made.

The Reactivate solution continues to enable real-time symptom screening, isolation management, test provisioning and delivery of results to both individuals and organisations responsible, all of which provide value and insight so that we may all better understand and react to Covid-19. Synoptics goal is to enable organisations, from schools to businesses to stay open with the assurance that they can manage the Covid-19 risk safely and meet their responsibility to keep staff safe.  Reactivate allows staff members to connect with each other as well as connect to their external households and wider social circles in a private and secure manner, in line with the most stringent privacy regulations.

The design of the Reactivate solution overcomes the problems faced by the Apple/Google bluetooth methodology adopted by Government’s across the world which uses anonymity at its core as opposed to privacy, and instead makes the necessary connection between the private household and an organisation, mimicking the transmissive behaviour of the COVID-19 virus across the home and work/education setting.

Staff and pupils in a particular classroom, associated with a positive case, can be immediately and automatically notified via the app or a text message and tests sent to their entire household, whilst the organisation – schools in this case, are able to manage the threat of infection in real-time within the circle of responsibility in which they operate. By identifying an infection at its source, ‘micro-lockdowns’ may also be facilitated. For example, to just a specific floor or classroom, meaning that the rest of the school may continue as normal.

The Reactivate Solution continues to be rolled out across the educational sector to safely manage infection and isolation in real-time.