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Smart thermometers help Arkansas schools keep track of flu

Some kids don't have access to thermometers at home, but the free thermometers through the FLUency program are saving some trouble.

BEEBE, Ark. — Detecting the flu in schools just got easier for some Arkansas parents and teachers with the help of a free smart thermometer program.

Nearly three dozen elementary schools in Arkansas and 12 in central Arkansas are on board with the FLUency program this year. Sherwood Elementary was one of the first schools in the country to test it out last year.

"You just turn it on, it goes under the child's tongue, and if they’re running a fever, it’s going to say to turn on the app," Amber Vanaman said.

Amber Vanaman, the school nurse at Beebe Early Childhood Education, has already seen cases of the flu.

"I have students lined up at my door at 7:30 every morning saying, 'I don't feel good!" she said.

As a lower income school, Vanaman said some kids do not have access to thermometers at home.

"Normally, they are running a fever," she said.

But, the free thermometers through the FLUency program are saving some trouble. More than 400 parents and teachers are enrolled in the FLUency program in the Beebe School District. Vanaman said the app shows her how many students are sick and what they're sick with.

"The parents can even access that information at home and see 'Woah! There are five kids out in my student's class,'" she said.

Parents can also use the smart thermometer app to send messages or questions to the school nurse.

Ashley Thrift said when her son was sick last week, the thermometer also gave her advice based on his symptoms.

"It told me I needed to contact my son's pediatrician immediately," Thrift said.

The Arkansas Department of Health said this week alone, more than 200 cases of the flu were reported. Health officials said these early numbers are worse than the last two years.

"I'm able to see what's going around at that time," Vanaman said.

Vanaman said this app will hopefully help parents identify flu symptoms quicker.

"And you don't have to send them to school and infect the whole class," she said.

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