Salesforce Launches Work.com for Schools
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Starting today, the company will offer its workplace management software to schools. The product is intended for use as a command and communication center for educational institutions. It includes a “well-being check” feature that allows schools to assess whether students, teachers and staff are able to return to campus by analyzing the results of the health survey and other “trends and perspectives” on well-being. It also allows administrators to track cases and relationships of those who have been infected or exposed to COVID-19 by easily creating visual maps of the contacts and associated locations. (Individual cases are entered manually, not through track and trace apps.)
Work.com has previously been used by businesses and governments looking to manage their data and response to a pandemic, such as the state of rhode island. Here too, contact tracing is done by humans and Work.com functions as a registration and communication system.
Just over half of K-12 schools and colleges in the United States have provided reinstatement plans for the current school year. Some of those who have reopened in recent days have already faced business and closures. Take the example of North Paulding High School in Georgia, which made headlines for its crowded hallways and unmasked students. This school has now been closed, in order to be “thoroughly cleaned and disinfected” because several students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19. In other words, unfortunately there will likely be a lot of demand for products that help schools find and track cases, like Work.com and countless other technological tools now being routed to schools and businesses looking to reopen.
Schools that choose or are forced to opt for distance learning only also face their own problems. The pandemic has brought to light an existing digital divide, with some students struggling to access reliable internet and devices, many of whom are black and Latinx.
To this end, Salesforce also announced a $ 20 million grant to school districts in San Francisco, Oakland, Indianapolis, Chicago and New York. The money is intended to support distance learning and to “close the equity gap” for students and teachers. According to Ebony Beckwith, director of philanthropy at Salesforce, these cities were chosen based on need and the company’s presence in various regions – the tech player is encouraging employees to volunteer in these school districts.
To be sure, $ 20 million is pouring into a handful of cities, and software that helps schools deal with the information chaos they face is just one of many efforts being made by many companies. And there is no single solution, currently available, that makes the opening of schools completely safe or the choice of distance learning completely effective and fair. But, like many other tools currently available, this is a start.
More coronavirus coverage of Fortune:
- The UK lifted border controls just as COVID took off. Lawmakers call it “a big mistake”
- Wayfair finally makes a profit thanks to soaring COVID-19 spending
- The best Swedish virologist has a message on how to beat the coronavirus: Open schools and no masks
- Commentary: If the United States had dealt with COVID-19 like Europe did, 60,000 Americans are still alive
- Comment: The next stimulus should be a no-regret infrastructure bill