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FGCU Sees Low Response Rate for New COVID-19 Screening App Despite Requirement

EN photo by Julia Bonavita.

By Sam Romero
Contributing Writer
Jordan Blake remembers walking through the Palm trees to the Florida Gulf Coast University Recreation center but was stopped as soon as she entered the front doors and asked to show her phone before entering. Blake, like all FGCU students, is required to show a bright, green checkmark before stepping foot in some of FGCU’s facilities. The symbol represents that the student filled out a daily health-screening quiz and is clear from any COVID-19 symptoms.
The health screening app, Veoci, takes the name of the student, any symptoms, and contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19. 
When the student appears to be in good health, a green checkmark appears, and the student is allowed to come to campus. A yellow sign means symptoms may be present and is a warning to take precautions. With a red sign, the student will have to stay at home, and a case investigator will contact the student for guidance.
On November 10, only 1,691 students, less than 11% of the student body, completed the app despite its daily submission requirement and its newest condition to enter facilities like the Recreation Center, the Waterfront and the Aquatic Center.
“We need more students to complete the screening app each day as our COVID-19 case management system at FGCU is built around the information we receive from the screening app,” Susan Evans, Vice President & Chief of Staff, said.
The requirement for students to use the app in certain facilities began on September 22, but the number of students submitting their information started trailing down. 
The day the app was required, student interaction rose to 20% and the employee rate rose to almost 80%. In weeks after the verification requirement to enter facilities began, student count dropped to 17%, and employees remained at 80%.
There are about 15,000 students studying on campus this semester, and 4,000 students are living at FGCU.
Since the start of the fall semester, there have been a total of 277 total coronavirus cases on campus, with 148 student and employee counts reported in October, according to the FGCU COVID-19 case management system.
This follows after FGCU began asymptomatic testing for all students who live in Eagle Hall at South Village on October 9. 
The case management system tracks information from the app, and helps guide administration to locations, like Eagle Hall, where there might be a hotspot for positive cases.
“As you know COVID-19 is very, very contagious, especially in close quarters,” Evans said. “This is just a really important part of the screening app so that we can know what the situations are and decrease the opportunity for exposure to other students and others on the campus.”
Some students, like Blake, are not surprised that the student responses are so low.
Blake said students are used to pulling out the app only when required to enter a facility, but without a need for the app to enter campus, it is natural that students will forget or ignore it.
“I genuinely think that it’s kind of useless, if you used it, you can see that the answers are already recorded for you,” Blake said. “Even if you have symptoms, 90% of the time, the student is going to click ‘submit’ and get the green checkmark.”
She has only seen her classmates use the app when other people are asked to.
22-year-old FGCU student Nathan Wilson agrees.
Wilson, an active member of the campus community, said he forgets to fill out the survey while juggling classes, homework and a part-time job.
“There are many things on students’ minds during these hectic times and filling out a survey is the last thing they think about before coming to campus,” Wilson said.
Along with forgetting to take the survey, many students, like Blake and Wilson, are not convinced that the app is worth the use since it is not required to attend class on the main campus.
 “Unless a student is involved on campus or would attend a University event, there is no repercussion or incentive to fill out the screening when coming to campus,” Wilson said.
Wilson and Blake both say students can easily fill out the app to attend events without giving the validity of the answers a second thought.
“It’s an honesty system, and let’s be real, most people would like to go to class or go to the gym,” Blake said. “It’s already filled out for you, so all you have to do is press a button.” 
Wilson also said that most students won’t actively admit they are going out, even though they do, for fear of social penalty. “Students can falsify information, be ill-informed of exposure, or fail to realize the severity of their actions,” he said. 
In the future, the app will not be enforced to enter classes or walk onto the main campus, Evans said, but students can expect more facilities to begin instituting the verification requirement.
“We’re not really going to have a checkpoint at the front entrance of the campus, that would cause a huge traffic backlog on Ben Hill Griffin Parkway,” Evans said. “But, I think that students should know that anytime and anywhere they are on campus across campus, there is the potential of them being asked to show the green checkmark before entering the facility.”
In the meantime, Evans and the FGCU administration hope to see the number of responses rise.  FGCU will plan to expand its requirements to increase the number of app submissions.
“Unfortunately, [with] all of our reminders and gentle encouragement, we’re not getting the numbers that we need,” Evans said. “Students can look forward to having additional locations where they will be asked to show the green checkmark.”

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