During the month of November, Desert Hills Elementary School performed in the top 20 percent of schools around the nation that participated in the FLUency School Health Program.

Desert Hills Elementary School students receive their free thermometers.

FLUency is a philanthropic program that reduces the spread of illness in elementary schools. The program offers free, app-enabled thermometers to all families and school staff, which they are able to use to understand their child’s health and the health of those around them. The FLUency Health Program is offered to parents and school staff. Free thermometers are offered to school nurses and parents who download the app. The thermometers are provided by Kinsa, the company that developed the FLUency app.

A student at Desert Hills Elementary receives a free Kinsa thermometer.

Each time parents take their child’s temperature, the thermometer instantly and anonymously communicates with the app to help schools stay ahead of an illness outbreak. Parents can check the app at any time to see, for example, that there are currently six instances of fever and four instances of sore throat in their child’s school. Parents are able to look at the data, but the family’s information is kept private. Additionally, parents are able to help stop the spread of illness in the community by making better-informed decisions about keeping their children home from school when they are sick.

Using the app, school nurses can monitor how many students are sick at each grade level. However, all students remain anonymous. Maria Blum, a school nurse at Desert Hills Elementary, said the app helps her see which illnesses are trending in her school, allowing her to alert parents about which symptoms are prevalent before sending their students to school.

“As a nurse, I have access to put nurse’s notes on the app,” Blum said. “Last month, I had a lot of strep throat cases going around. I was able to alert the parents through the app. In turn, it helps improve our attendance because it helps keep those kids who are already sick at home, and they don’t come to school to infect the rest of the kids. That way the kids that are nice and healthy are able to stay in school, and the ones who are not stay at home and get better.”

Desert Hills Elementary School students getting free thermometers for FLUency Program.

Signing up for the app is easy, according to Blum. Parents can download it, add their information and email, and create a profile for their child which is tied to the school their child attends.

“Whenever we can prevent an illness from spreading, we’re able to keep more kids in the classroom, which translates to more instructional time,” said Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Greg Ewing. “I applaud Nurse Blum for finding innovative ways to keep our students healthy, and for involving parents in the process.”

Blum said 140 parents of Desert Hills students signed up and received free thermometers during the month of November. The high participation rate placed the school in the top 20 percent of FLUency schools nationwide.

She said with the information she receives, she can go into classrooms where symptoms are occurring and reinforce health tips such as washing hands regularly, correctly covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough, and helping them understand when they need to stay home to get better.

— Samantha Lewis, LCPS Public Relations Coordinator, 575-527-5946, slewis@lcps.net