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Virginia Wesleyan University uses app to help track, trace, report COVID-19 on and off campus

The free app is called ‘Live Safe,’ and Virginia Wesleyan is requiring everyone to take daily health screenings on the app, before going to work or class on campus.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Many people have concerns over how some colleges are bringing students back to campus.

Virginia Wesleyan University brought students to campus on Monday, but it’s using an app to help track the coronavirus cases and help students keep each other accountable.

Officials say the free app is called ‘Live Safe,’ and Virginia Wesleyan is requiring everyone to take daily health screenings on it before going to work or class on campus.

Here's how it works: the app asks users health questions related to COVID-19 symptoms.

If a person isn't healthy, then a confidential notification goes to the school saying that person can not come to campus that day.

That's not the only precaution the university is taking. Virginia Wesleyan President Scott D. Miller said they’re also requiring social distancing and face masks on campus.

“We are zero tolerance,” said Miller. If someone doesn't follow the rules, they could get suspended.

However, Miller said so far, so good.

“I have found the student response has been outstanding," Miller said.

Still, a major concern is college students not following CDC recommendations off campus, where the university has less oversight.

That's where the Live Safe app also lets people anonymously report a gathering that's in violation of school protocols.

Virginia Wesleyan Senior Ashley Roehrman said she’s a realist. 

“You’re right, it is college students. People haven’t seen each other for like six months. People want to hang out. So, I’m hoping that they take it as seriously as this is," Roehrman said.

She’s also not afraid to hold her peers accountable.

“I’ll call you out. I’ll say it, I’ll say like 'Please wear your mask appropriately, social distance, take it seriously,'” Roehrman continued.

So far, Roehrman said off-campus life is calm. Even student-run organizations are taking precautions during this pandemic, according to President Miller.

“I was really impressed that our Greek organizations, which are student-led, came out aggressively early on and said there are not going to be group activities this fall,” said Miller.