Tessa McIlraith, a school nurse at West View Elementary School and Burlington-Edison High School, poses Oct. 19 outside the elementary school in Burlington.

BURLINGTON — The Burlington-Edison School District is hoping to help combat cold and flu season by providing families the information and tools they need in order to know when to keep their kids away from others.

The district recently announced it has been accepted into the Lysol and Kinsa FLUency health program, which will provide free smart thermometers to families and record class, school and districtwide data about any spreading cold and flu symptoms.

Though beginning Nov. 30 the district will have few students on campuses, it will continue to use the FLUency program.

District nurse Tessa McIlraith, who spends most of her time at West View Elementary School and Burlington-Edison High School, said the district applied to be part of the program last winter — long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The health and well-being of our students and teachers is our top priority, while continuing to support learning and education,” Superintendent Laurel Browning said in a news release. “We are grateful to be part of this innovative program, giving us a look at the trends affecting our classrooms.”

With the pandemic still raging throughout the country, Kinsa has updated its technology to include several COVID-19 symptoms, McIlraith said.

The smart thermometers are connected via Bluetooth to a cellphone app that asks about symptoms and collects the health data to send to school nurses, who can then evaluate it for trends, McIlraith said.

The app can then suggest to parents and guardians whether their child is safe to go to school, should stay home, or should be seen by a medical professional.

While most of the data is in English, some of it is in Spanish, McIlraith said. For those who are not fluent in English, the app also has photo illustrations, she said.

With the data uploaded to the school nurses, nurses can then cater information to certain classes or grades, McIlraith said.

“That tells me what classrooms I need to make sure to get info out to,” she said. “It’s really great to see because it gives us the opportunity to focus our education.”

For example, if several students in one classroom report having a sore throat, McIlraith could send information home about how to care for a sore throat.

The program is an opt-in program available to all K-8 families in the district.

Although in its early phases, McIlraith estimated between 50 and 70 families at each of the district’s five elementary schools have signed up for the program so far.

“As we use it more, we’ll get feedback from our families to see how its helping them,” she said.

Burlington-Edison families with elementary school students can receive the free thermometers by calling their school nurse, or by texting “FLUency” to 900900 and following the directions.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141, kwanielista@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kera_SVH, facebook.com/KeraReports

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