Designing a digital system to help schools manage Covid-19

About the substudy

The overall aim of the study was to develop digital tools and systems to help schools deal with the practical challenges of preventing and coping with an outbreak of Covid-19. We wanted to do this collaboratively with school staff, parents, and pupils. This process is called ‘co-design’.

Mobile phone in hand photo by Omar Flores

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

The study included interviews with school staff to explore their views on the issues they currently face in managing Covid-19 in the school setting. During the interviews we also discussed possible digital systems that might help with the management of Covid-19 in schools.

The study also included ‘co-design’ workshops with school staff, parents and pupils. The aims of these workshops were to gather views on different digital solutions, to identify the best one, and to design some prototypes of the systems to manage Covid-19 in schools.


Three digital tools for contact tracing were identified and explored in focus groups with parents, teachers and pupils:

  • CCTV with facial recognition technology
  • access cards that would monitor entry into common school areas
  • proximity tracking with cards and beacons

There is not a single tool that is suitable for all schools. Available infrastructure in each school will determine which tools can be implemented.

Concerns around privacy were more prominent among parents and teachers compared to students, while parents also appeared less aware of the surveillance technologies already used in schools.

Efforts should be made to increase transparency and build trust among school stakeholders.

Contact the researchers

If you have any questions about this study, please email Dr Sofia Chantziara:

About the research team

Prof Ian Craddock (University of Bristol)

Prof Ian Craddock

Ian Craddock is co-leading this sub-study. He is a Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and brings expertise in developing technologies for health.

Dr Amberly Brigden (University of Bristol)

Dr Amberley Brigden

Amberly Brigden is co-leading this sub-study. She brings expertise in qualitative methods, digital health and child health.

Dr Sofia Chantziara

Sofia Chantziara

Sofia is Senior Research Associate. She will be conducting interviews with school staff and she will be facilitating workshops with school staff, parents, and pupils. Sofia has a background in Psychology and experience in qualitative methods.