Are ‘Bio-Buttons’ The Answer For Opening Schools?
Oakland University has come up with a 'BioButton' to track students health, but some students are not real happy about it.
Oakland University in Rochester is planning to open on schedule September 3, but with the novel coronavirus still a threat, the school has requested that students wear a BioButton, a device that will monitor health readings like temperature and heart rate to determine the health of students.
“In order to lower the risk of virus outbreaks on campus a BioButton screening tool is being used. It provides additional information for health screening. The button will be used in conjunction with the daily health assessment to determine if you are able to participate in campus activities. The individual data will remain private to the wearer and is not shared with others,” the University had posted in a statement on its web site, which has since been removed.
The medical tracking can indicate early which students may have contracted the disease, possibly before symptoms show up. it would also aid in contact tracing, which is critical to squashing outbreaks.
“It doesn’t track where it goes, but it knows when it’s in close proximity to another button,” David Stone of the University's health Department told the Oakland Press. “If it comes into contact with another button that indicates an abnormality, such as the person isn’t clear to come to campus because of their health assessment, it can help alert the user that they’ve had prolonged contact with someone who might need to be tested for the virus.”
Initially, it appeared the BioButton would be mandatory for those living in residence halls on campus, but student blow back was quick and fierce, and the University says the use of it is now optional.
“If it’s not mandatory, then it’s like, you know, what is it even really achieving,” an Oakland University student identified only as Natalie told ClickOnDetroit.
2400 students signed an online petition to make it optional.
The University hopes to be able to provide BioButtons for whoever wants them, but without everyone using them, it may be a moot point.
If we want schools to open in the fall, we may have to accept that devices like the BioButton are the best course to monitor and keep the disease at bay. Otherwise, things will be shutting down fast, I fear.
Full disclosure: I currently have to submit to a general health screening everyday before I'm allowed into work. So I have sacrificed a little of my right to privacy to work. It's a trade off I have no problem making. While I have only a small amount of fear of getting the disease (I'm in pretty goo health), I am more afraid of spreading it to people who aren't in as healthy as I am.
How do you feel about giving up some individual privacy for the greater health of the populace? It's a question we'll all be asking ourselves soon.