Smart thermometer partnership seeks to track coronavirus in schools

(UPDATED, 2:48 p.m., with new numbers from Kinsa and CrushTheCurve Idaho.)

A public health company and an Idaho group are partnering to use smart thermometers to spot potential coronavirus outbreaks.

The plan is to get about 65,000 of the smart thermometers to parents across Idaho. The thermometers provide users a temperature reading within a few seconds. From there, a smartphone app compiles the data in anonymous reports on local health trends.

“An early warning and early response system is essential infrastructure for any state looking to help identify and react to outbreaks before they become epidemics, as we are facing with COVID-19,” says Inder Singh, founder and CEO of Kinsa, a San Francisco-based company that has built a network of more than 1 million smart thermometers across the nation. “Think of it as a flashlight going off, illuminating a geography and saying, ‘Send the test kits in, because something unusual is happening.’”

Kinsa is working with CrushTheCurveIdaho, a group that is working to expand coronavirus testing in the state. Tracking student health is one way to head off a rapid outbreak of the virus.

“Getting Idaho back to work and keeping Idaho open has been our goal since day one,” said Tina Upson, CrushTheCurveIdaho’s executive director. “If our schools shut down in the fall, then our businesses shut down.”

Kinsa and CrushTheCurve hope to get the 65,000 thermometers distributed in all 44 counties, in hopes of detecting signs of coronavirus “community spread” in urban and rural schools alike. Business partners will sponsor schools around the state, providing smart thermometers to every household in a school or a district. For instance, the Boise-based fraud prevention software firm Kount has agreed to donate smart thermometers to all 340 families in the Wilder School District.

“We fully embrace Kinsa’s technologies to now educate and empower our school administration and our state leaders with data that will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep our families healthy,” Wilder Superintendent Jeff Dillon said.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday