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COVID-19 symptom app causing stir among CCSD teachers

Emocha app
Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 21:16:55-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — An app that tracks COVID-19 symptoms is causing worry among several Clark County School District teachers.

As CCSD transitions into hybrid learning for all grades, more teachers are preparing to head back to school.

They’ll have to sign up for a symptom tracking app from a company called Emocha before coming back into the classroom.

They’re concerned information from that app will be sold to third parties without their permission. But the teacher’s union and the app’s developer say it’s safe to use and is needed to ensure a safe classroom environment.

Everyone working in a school building is required to be on the app. Audra Duvall, a CCSD middle school teacher is concerned about it.

“It’s not protecting your rights. It’s basically saying that HIPPA rights and privacy don’t apply in a pandemic. They’re throwing everything out the window.”

Those using the app will have to log in every day, check their temperature and type in if they have any symptoms. That data is then gathered by Emocha and sent to the principals for review. A teacher randomly could be told to get tested and that test result must be self-reported in the app. Duvall sees it as a violation of her civil liberties. She also has concerns about privacy and her medical data being shared freely or sold to a third party.

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“We know it’s unethical but there are always breaches of things,” Duvall said.

She believes the random nasal swab COVID-19 test is too invasive. But what makes her most frustrated is the fact the app is required if teachers want to return to campus, they could face suspension or lose their job if they don’t comply.

“I feel worthless when it comes to the school district. When it comes to CCEA. That we’re part of a cog,” she said.

Clark County Education Association Executive Director John Vellardita says the app is part of an agreement between the school district and the teacher’s union. He says there is a responsibility to keep everyone safe in the classroom and tracking symptoms is one way of doing it.

“We don’t want anyone to lose their job or face discipline, but more importantly we don’t want anyone to contract this virus and god forbid, become fatal, and so you must have a mandatory safety program in place, and you have to enforce it,” Vellardita said.

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He says the union is working with the district on allowing teachers to get a less invasive test.

“We’re trying to work with the district to allow those who do not want the invasive swab can take the saliva test, so that’s what we’re working through,” he said.

Duvall says she felt forced to get on the app but wants to make her frustrations heard.

“If I don’t do the right thing, how can I tell my kids to do the right thing. Did I do the right thing? Did I stand up for myself?”

The CEO of Emocha says no data collected is sold to anyone period and will only be seen by CCSD administrators.

Some teachers don’t believe random testing will help prevent any potential spread of COVID-19 and are instead pushing to focus on following vaccine protocols.