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A person holding a cell phone displaying the V C U Entry Pass application with the cleared to enter screen for Rodney the Ram. [View Image] A Rodney Ram example of Entry Pass. When accessed, the digital "fast pass" will feature an avatar of the user, the date and time and either a green check, a yellow warning or a red "X." (James Irwin, University Public Affairs)

What to know about Entry Pass, the digital tool VCU is using to promote public health compliance

Beginning Jan. 25, students and employees will need to log into the digital “fast pass” to enter four buildings on campus, vouching that they are in compliance with health checks and COVID-19 testing.

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When the spring semester starts at Virginia Commonwealth University, students, staff and faculty will need a green check from Entry Pass if they want to enter certain buildings, such as the University Student Commons, Shafer Court, VCU Libraries (Cabell and Health Sciences) and all recreational sports facilities. 

Entry Pass, a digital tool which is on the VCU mobile app, was developed as another way to prevent COVID-19 on the university’s campuses. When accessing the buildings named above (a full listing is available online), students and employees will open the VCU mobile app on their phones, click the “Entry Pass” icon and log in. If you have completed your daily health check, accessing Entry Pass will result in a green check mark. If you didn't, it would show a red ‘X.’

The tool, a “fast pass” of sorts for accessing popular campus buildings, is based on the mandatory daily health check. It also is connected to VCU’s mandatory asymptomatic surveillance testing for residential students, students that are registered for at least one class that is designated as on-campus, and employees who work on campus. A yellow warning will appear if you were invited as part of the testing selection pool and did not show up. You would still be allowed entry to the facilities that are checking for Entry Pass, but you would have that warning as a reminder that you still need to show up for your COVID-19 test. If you do not show up for the test after the second week, it would turn to a red ‘X,’ said Barry Lanneau Jr., records officer and special applications director in VCU’s Technology Services office. 

Lanneau and Jim Yucha, deputy director of application services, and Jessica F. Bryant, a senior project manager in the Office of the Vice President for Administration, talked to VCU News about Entry Pass, how it works and how it can help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Can you explain how Entry Pass works?

Bryant: We will have attendants at the Entry Pass designated buildings who will be checking your phone. We're considering it like a fast pass that you might find at an entertainment or amusement park. You can just show it and breeze on by the line. There is an alternative for folks who forgot their phone, their phone is broken or they don't have a phone. There is also a website where you can complete it and then have a paper copy of your Entry Pass if necessary.

If you do not have either one of those, then you will have to stop and speak with the attendant who will ask a series of compliance-based questions. For example: “Are you aware that if selected for surveillance testing you are required to participate?” “Are you aware that you're required to monitor your health daily by completing your daily health check?” “Are you aware that you are required to follow all public health measures like wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance?” So they're not necessarily health questions like you get when you go to the doctor, but they will be compliance-based questions.

What if someone says no to those questions? Or, “I was not aware?”

Bryant: The attendant will show them where they can learn more, and direct them to together.vcu.edu. It outlines all of our health and safety protocols and the expectations for students, employees and faculty staff. Students and employees are required to complete a training and attest to following the public safety measures, so Entry Pass serves as another physical reminder. Depictions of three Entry Pass screens for Rodney the Ram indicating a particular status. [View Image] Depending on the status of the user, Entry Pass will display one of three messages: a green check, a yellow warning, which says that the user is supposed to be tested but hasn't yet been tested, or a red "X,’" which means the user either hasn't completed a daily health check or hasn't completed surveillance testing. (James Irwin, University Public Affairs)

What are you specifically hoping this will address?

Bryant: Our students were great during the fall. We really did not have a lot of issues with them not following safety measures. So we're hopeful that Entry Pass will be viewed favorably and will just help everyone stay safe as they return to campus. With the daily health check, we follow up and you get automated notices, but we have a very large student population. We focused more on residential students, which is about 5,000 students, but when you're talking 30,000 students it's hard to do those personal follow-ups at that scale.

So Entry Pass is just another way to reiterate the importance of the daily health survey. Then on top of that, with us making surveillance testing mandatory, it just seemed like it made sense to include that in the Entry Pass so that we could touch both of those areas. It’s another tool in our toolkit to reinforce how important these safety measures are and how seriously we're taking them as a university. 

How can the VCU community find and activate the Entry Pass?

Yucha: If you download the VCUMobile [app], you pick either the student persona or the faculty and staff persona. Near the top is Entry Pass as a little icon. You tap on it, and then you will log in with your ID and password. The Entry Pass goes into the VCU card data and extracts your image. When you show your Entry Pass, it shows your image. If you don’t have a mobile device, you can also access Entry Pass at entrypass.vcu.edu.

It will show the green check, the yellow warning, which says that you're supposed to be tested but you haven't done it, or the red ‘X,’ which says you either haven’t completed your health check or haven’t completed surveillance testing. It will also very clearly show the date and time. So you can't show yesterday's pass. You can't take a screenshot with your phone, bring it with you tomorrow and get through because [it will] be the wrong date.

It’s another tool in our toolkit to reinforce how important these safety measures are and how seriously we're taking them as a university.

It’s meant for oversight and to keep the VCU population healthy, but how were concerns about surveillance taken into consideration?

Bryant: We’re very cognizant of this being a concern among our community. We also have asymptomatic surveillance testing, so we're trying to consider very carefully how the use of Entry Pass might be perceived. 

For example, our Entry Pass attendants will represent One VCU: Responsible Together as opposed to security guards or other hard-handed enforcement. Entry attendants are our partners in keeping everyone safe. They'll be wearing a polo shirt that says One VCU: Responsible Together. As we develop the process, we tried to anticipate concerns with Entry Pass.

Lanneau: The part that relates to the testing is not tracking your test results. It's just tracking whether you showed up and got tested as required if you were selected. So at no point is it displaying any test results or health information. We do not have access to any of that information.

Are there repercussions if someone regularly refuses to participate?

Bryant: Absolutely. If you get red, you're going to be denied access to the buildings. As far as the surveillance testing, if folks are not showing up for that they will get a more personalized follow-up. 

On the human resources side, it would be your manager or HR professional reaching out to discuss with you why you haven't completed it. Then for students, they would get a call from Student Affairs, possibly the Dean of Students Office. So if someone has failed to show up, we do want to have a conversation with them and find out what's keeping them from completing it.

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