Catlin Gabel Students Invent App to Track On-Campus Movement During COVID-19

School administrators enlisted students to create an easy-to-use system to track in real-time building usage – and instituted their app schoolwide.

An innovative contact tracing app designed by two high school students, known as cTrace, was launched this fall, replacing a more cumbersome Google form at Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, to track individual movements across campus in response to the state’s contract tracing measures enacted to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Catlin Gabel School administrators realized that the Google form within the employee portal was difficult to access and was not consistently used and so were seeking to implement an easier and more accurate contact tracing system. They enlisted 11th-graders Nate Sales and Seth Knights to find a solution, and the students created the app cTrace (short for Catlin Trace), which can be accessed through smart phones or desktop computers.

The tracing system is now is used by every employee on campus. Outside doors on all buildings feature a QR code that can be scanned to open the app or individuals can go directly to the app itself. Users only need to click on the building name when they enter or exit a building; cTrace records precisely whom is in each building and at what time.

The students were approached by school because of their expertise in app development. The students sought feedback from the school’s IT department and a computer science teacher, but worked independently in developing the app.

“We both had past experience in application development, so we had a solid understanding of the development process,” Nate Sales says. “And because of this, the project was a great learning opportunity to use new tools and techniques.” Seth Knights adds, “We chose to learn some new technologies specifically for this project, in order to speed up development and provide a better experience for us and those using our app.”

To help employees understand how to operate and access the cTrace app, the Catlin Gabel IT department created this instructional video.

Currently, Catlin Gabel students, except for preschoolers, are learning remotely, but many employees continue to work on campus; cTrace will also be used by parents who may need to visit campus buildings when students return.

At this stage in the pandemic based on state protocols, no parents or visitors are allowed in campus buildings to limit potential exposure to COVID-19.

For more information, please contact Ken DuBois, Catlin Gabel Director of Public Relations & Publications, at / 503-867-3708.