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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on schools with many continuing to operate remotely with online instruction or in a hybrid model due to ongoing safety concerns. As of April, approximately 47 percent of students had not yet returned to in-person learning.

To help K-12 school districts, especially those with multiple campuses, across the U.S. prepare for the return to the classroom, we are introducing Microsoft Return to School. Built on Microsoft Power Platform, the solution provides tools to help school districts and schools efficiently and safely manage the logistics of returning to in-person classes, in accordance with CDC guidelines, and monitor intelligently with capabilities for a safer learning environment.

Microsoft Return to School enables daily symptomatic attestation, periodic testing, manual contact tracing, and visual dashboards to help schools create a safe return to in-classroom learning. Microsoft Return to School was designed and developed through extensive collaboration with Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest district in the US with more than 80,000 staff who serve about 650,000 students.

Microsoft Return to School is an easy-to-use, configurable solution to:

  • Enable daily symptomatic screening by creating daily passes using Power Apps portals.
  • Manage testing plans and appointments. Easily manage test appointments, update questionnaire responses, and notify students and staff of their test results.
  • Oversee safe re-opening. Manage safe re-opening operations by tracking daily passes, monitoring test results and active cases, and overseeing manual contact tracing.
  • Utilize comprehensive, configurable dashboards. Data and insights from Power BI let administrators monitor key safety data and share vital metrics, like positive test rates, with the community.

The main modules of Return to School include:

  • School management app that gives school administrators the tools they need to monitor and manage the return of students and staff to school. The apps help schools with daily attestation and access controls, periodic testing, case management, and manual contact tracing.
  • A faculty and student portal designed as a self-service tool for students, parents, guardians, and staff. The portal is designed to provide a mobile experience for the end-user and can scale to tablet or desktop screen sizes.
  • Dashboard and analytics to help school administrators view historical trends of key program measurements, such as daily attestations and cases. Dashboards show metrics for reopening and analytics measure testing efficacy and operational performance.

Daily attestations for symptomatic screening

Using the faculty and student portal, students, teachers, and staff can attest to being symptom-free, and receive a personalized “day pass” that can be used for school entry. Guardians can attest on behalf of their dependents.

Using the faculty and student portal, students, teachers, and staff can attest to being symptom-free, and receive a personalized “day pass” that can be used for school entry. Guardians can attest on behalf of their dependents.

Microsoft has also partnered with Teknikos to integrate their self-service, touch-free health check kiosk, powered by Microsoft Surface, to provide an additional level of screening prior to school entry through their Communify App. A student uses the day pass QR code generated in the faculty and student portal to identify themselves at the kiosk. The kiosk reads their temperature and logs a visit. Learn more about the Teknikos Communify app.

For students without a device or a day pass, school staff can review attestation with the student or their guardian and create a daily pass for the student.

For students without a device or a day pass, school staff can review attestation with the student or their guardian and create a daily pass for the student.

Case management and manual contact tracing

Administrators have the tools to actively manage COVID-19 cases and identify hot spots. With the capability for manual contact tracing, contact tracers can quickly identify case contacts through a suggested list, interview and evaluate contacts, and open a case if needed. Administrators can manage school access for affected persons and provide them guidance through any channel, such as app, email, or text. 

Analytics dashboard showing case clusters and associated metrics such as case contacts per case and percentage contacts evaluated

Manage testing operations

Administrators can create plans for screening (periodic) testing and diagnostic (confirmatory) testing for students, teachers, and staff while monitoring the effectiveness of the testing program. In addition, Return to School provides school administrators with the ability to set up and manage onsite testing locationsallowing students, teachers, and staff the ability to book test appointments and view their test results. The solution is built on a secure and scalable platform that helps ensure the end-to-end security, compliance, and interoperability of health data. 

Model-app showing test result-form view and Portal showing journey to book a test appointment

Test administrators, such as school nurses or health system partners, have a single integrated experience to check-in students and teachers with test appointments, record test results, and notify the persons tested.  

Test administrators, such as school nurses or health system partners, have a single integrated experience to check-in students and teachers with test appointments, record test results, and notify the persons tested.

Dashboards and analytics

During this rapidly evolving pandemic, administrators need to be equipped with data and insights to monitor key COVID-19 metrics and trends of the spread within the communities that the schools are located in.

The Return to School Analytics dashboard provides administrators with insights into testing programs, active cases, and daily attestations. Administrators can compare metrics across schools in the district and benchmark against community metrics, such as test positivity rates. School administrators and safety leaders can also view case clusters to identify potential outbreaks and take immediate actions. School administrators can share data and insights with parents, guardians, and community members through the public dashboard that can be embedded on the school or school district’s website.

Analytics dashboard showing overview of key safety metrics and view of the Testing tab

Get started and learn more

Get Microsoft Return to School now and read the Microsoft Return to School documentation to learn more. Learn how to extend Microsoft Return to School to meet your needs. The solution includes a data model to support student success, offering a foundation for extending the solution to meet future needs.

For businesses, the Return to the Workplace solution helps organizations safely and securely prepare for and streamline the return to physical workplace locations.

We’re always looking for feedback and would love to hear from you. Please head to the Community Forum to start a discussion, ask questions, and tell us what you think!

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