Students Adapt Hall Pass App to Aid in COVID-19 Response
The Passable app, which now helps with social distancing and contact tracing, was originally created by two students as a digital hall pass system.
Samuel Crombie, a sophomore at Dartmouth College and Martin County High School (Fla.) graduate, and his friend Joseph Semrai, currently a junior at Martin County High, had already developed an innovative app prior to the pandemic, according to WFLX.
The mobile app, called Passable, was inspired by a problem one of Semrai’s teachers was having.
“My teacher was just complaining about the hall pass system and how they have to take out a slip and write a physical hall pass every single time,” he recalled.
The pair thought the problem could be solved by digitizing hall passes. The app was originally designed to allow a student to request a hall pass to a specific location for a specific amount of time. Teachers have the ability to quickly approve the requests within the app.
Once schools started closing due to the pandemic, Crombie and Semrai took the opportunity to advance the app even further. They unveiled an updated version that uses information written on a hall pass to monitor crowd sizes and hallway traffic while creating a list of possible close contacts if someone in the school tests positive.
“Now we have a digitized record of every student’s whereabouts to and from a location,” said Crombie.
While the app can’t do real-time contact tracing, it can show, for example, how many people went to a particular bathroom or water fountain on a given day. It can also set capacity limits for specific rooms to aid in social distancing measures.
“If we were talking about going to the front office, you may only want 15 people in there at a time, so with that, you can set a limit to the number of passes that can be issued to the room,” Sermai said.
The app, which would cost around $1.75 per student each year, also allows students to report any suspicious activity they may see while they are out of class.