Last month, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced the launch of “Daily Pass.” Developed by Microsoft, the tracking app will scan children in schools, using a barcode, to coordinate health checks, COVID-19 tests and vaccinations.
“Sort of like the golden ticket in ‘Willy Wonka,’ everyone with this pass can easily get into a school building,” stated LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner during his weekly update on Feb. 22.
Daily Pass will gather data and share it with LAUSD collaborators
Daily Pass generates a unique QR code each day for each student and staff member. This code authorizes entry to a specific Los Angeles Unified location. To gain entry to class, each individual should have a negative test result for COVID-19, show no symptoms and have a temperature under 100 degrees.
School officials stated that data gathered by the app will be reported as required to health authorities. In addition, anonymized Daily Pass data will be used by the LAUSD’s research and healthcare collaborators “to provide insights and strategies” to implement. These partners are Stanford University, the University of California, Los Angeles, Johns Hopkins University, Anthem Blue Cross, Healthnet and Cedars Sinai.
The app will also be used by the LAUSD’s school-based vaccination program to register and schedule appointments, track vaccine supply, perform check-in and data capture, sort high-risk individuals, offer waitlists for low-risk individuals as well as provide dashboards for administrators and staff to view data.
“Since last June, our teams have been collaborating closely with Los Angeles Unified to support running schools remotely,” said Eran Meggido, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Windows product & education. “We are pleased to be working with Los Angeles Unified to help educators, staff and students return to schools sooner and safer. We are excited for you to start using Daily Pass.”
Meanwhile, Beutner stated that the LAUSD was the first school district in the U.S. to implement the technology, allowing school officials in the district to keep track of the health status of everyone inside their schools and facilities.
“The Daily Pass sets the highest standard possible for school safety,” Beutner said in a statement. “MERV-13 upgraded air filters in every school, COVID testing for all students and staff at least every week and now the Daily Pass – Los Angeles Unified is proud to lead the nation in creating the safest possible school environment.”
App’s data gathering raises questions
While the LAUSD states that the Daily Pass app is being deployed for health and safety reasons, others have raised flag about the amount of data it’s collecting.
According to John Whitehead, constitutional law attorney and founder of The Rutherford Institute, parents should be asking why the app is gathering all this data. He says that they need to know what the entities involved are going to do with the data, where it is going and whether it should be given to government agencies.
“We are moving into a total surveillance state and an entire generation of young people are acquiescing to the police state,” he warned. “Privacy as we know it will be deleted and no one will be overlooked.”
Whitehead has also stated that schools should be doing bringing parents into discussions, not only about the Daily Pass app, but also on other measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 in schools. If possible, parents should be given the choice to opt their children out of these measures. (Related: LAWSUIT: California parents want schools to fully reopen as students struggle with distance learning.)
“The government can accomplish many things with a ‘compelling state interest and a pandemic is just that,” he said. “But the school needs to provide an alternative for parents who do not want their children to participate in these measures — whether it’s a virtual learning option or a separate building.”
Follow EducationSystem.news for more on measures school districts around the U.S. are implementing to allow schools to reopen in the middle of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.