Yosemite Unified distributes free 'smart' thermometers to families

The devices connect to a free smartphone app and help monitor symptoms.
The Yosemite Unified School District is distributing about 5,000 meals per week while students are away from the classroom and the cafeteria.

On Wednesday, families picking up food at Coarsegold Elementary also had a chance to take home a free thermometer.

"I think it's a great idea. The school lunch program is awesome, and the thermometer idea is awesome," said Terri Gray, one parent.

The devices were donated by a company called Kinsa, and they connect to a free smartphone app.

"If you're a parent, it's the middle of the night and your child is coughing or has a fever you can take their temperature. It will automatically sync the reading to the app, and you can input symptoms and based on their age, you'll receive real-time guidance on essentially what to do next," said Jared Flamm of Kinsa.

Kinsa also aggregates the anonymous data into a map that's posted on healthweather.us to help residents and officials track where people are experiencing symptoms.

The company has provided the thermometers to districts across the country in recent years, including Fresno Unified, to help manage the spread of the flu.

Now it's distributing another 400,000 to schools across California with the help of a private donor to provide insight on COVID-19.

"We can provide states, we can provide schools, we can provide public health leaders with information that they need to actually kind of close the loop on communication and provide real benefit back to those who are seeing the information," said Flamm.

Kinsa hopes the data will play a role in early detection, monitoring, and response to the coronavirus crisis as well as analyzing the re-opening of local economies.

For Superintendent Glen Billington, he believes it's a tool that will also help when schools are able to welcome students back into their buildings.

"Being able to have our families know when their kids are sick, not just now but all the time, is really important because we want kids to stay home when they're sick. We want them here every day they can be here, but if they have a fever, of course we don't want them in schools," said Billington.

Kinsa says about 50% of families in Title 1 schools do not have access to thermometers. Other districts interested in this program can find more information here.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.