BlueCard Inc.
New York, New York
May 2020
To School District Leaders and Policymakers:
As leaders on the front line of this pandemic, you are all too aware of the fact that the burdens of this public health crisis have fallen most heavily on those least able to navigate them or the multiple agencies that relief often requires. Addressing these inequities will require that policymakers be able to assess families' needs on a system-wide level in real-time so that they can be analyzed, prioritized, and proactively connected to the agency(ies) that can help. 

Of all city agencies, schools are in the best position to lead this effort. They can (1) do outreach at scale (staff trained in how to connect with families, a track record of established trust, relationships with and access to supports at other agencies), (2) inventory families' vulnerabilities and urgent needs, and (3) proactively connect families to the supports, resources, and services offered within and outside the DOE that can help them manage this crisis and feel heard.  They are also connected to community-based organizations that are often important allies in connecting to those families who do not trust schools or city government.  The problem is that schools do not currently have the tools they need to efficiently inventory families' needs, connect them to available supports, or instantly relay pertinent information to the policymakers who need it to better inform their strategic plans.

BlueCard can change that very quickly and help facilitate such an effort by giving parents and staff a single place to securely store, update, and share safety information. More importantly, our platform can programmatically read all of those records, allowing the DOE, for the first time ever, to automatically inventory, map, and rank underlying health conditions and needs for millions of families in areas like online learning, mental health, safety, health and wellness, shelter, and food insecurity. In other words, policymakers can now have access to real-time underlying health conditions, symptoms, and needs (on an individual and system-wide level), a place to track when those needs have been met, and a system that can adapt as our understanding of this crisis evolves, like how to spot a COVID-19 outbreak given a changing list of symptoms.

Some examples of what our unique capabilities can help the DOE accomplish:

Collect safety information remotely; identify families with bad numbers or no numbers; avoid mobility-related sharing issues (homelessness, elimination of holdovers, transitions); dramatically compress the time to primary contact; enhance schools' ability to open by increasing the certainty that closure and cleaning alerts can be delivered immediately; ensure the timeliness of school-specific communications (letters, alternate learning schedules, new protocols); prepare quickly for summer school (parse out and collect contact information, share it with new schools); a reliable way to stay connected (point all parents to one place where they can update their information and share it with any school from any phone, in any language); ensure your ability to reach targeted small groups and communities.

Safely grant and track access to good contact information across a wide array of stakeholder (pedagogs, non-pedagogs, STH/ACS/D79 liaisons, paraprofessionals, REC staff, superintendent/central staff, etc.) then store what they learn with information that families volunteer in one place; automatically turn information into actionable, structured data that central can access, analyze, use for contact tracing, etc.

Improve the availability of quality and timely health surveillance data with real-time, remote tracking of underlying health conditions (asthma, diabetes, obesity, etc.), symptoms, infections, and vaccinations; create a comprehensive health profile for anyone from just a few fields of data; identify communities with a greater need for intervention; partner with the DOH and city officials to track community spread; expedite the deployment of front line health care workers; put new 'kid-first' protective factors in place, etc.

Quantify ELL/MLL students or those with special needs, families requesting help with grief, a device, online learning support, shelter and food insecurity, translation services, health and wellness, parent/family support, mental health, substance abuse, or families that have an immediate cash need or that report a death, job loss, or case of domestic abuse, and/or are doubled-up and getting displaced, then measure the connections that your staff make to other agencies (DIIT, STH, NYCHA, RECs, DOHMH, ACS Family Assessment Program, HRA, etc.); create new channels of support (e.g. special needs and ELL/MLLs students affected by online learning).

The virus has exposed inequities that have long been a part of the NYC landscape. It demands an organized, strategic response across multiple city agencies and community partners if we are to provide our children with safe, equitable access to school. While the public health and policy challenges ahead are great, so too is the opportunity to advance equity and make a transformational shift in the assertion of care that the DOE makes to each of its 1.1 million families.

Real-time data can be used by the DOE to inform strategic responses, allocate resources, and develop protective factors in ways never before possible, and for our collective good; knowledge of its use can also instill greater confidence in the parents and staff who have concerns about reopening. In short, our tools can help the DOE prioritize your most vulnerable and support data-driven decision making that better serves the needs of all students.

We'd love to speak with you if you think we can help.


Alfredo Carrillo
CEO, BlueCard Inc.