Stuyvesant Implements Electronic Blue Cards

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Students among the Stuyvesant community may have noticed a recent shift toward electronic systems for administrative tasks. JupiterEd, PupilPath, and Google Classroom have all become prevalent in classrooms as educational tools. Within the past year, Talos has helped automate program changes, as well as Internet access and locker assignment. Electronic blue cards are but the newest addition to the school’s adoption of technology.

Every year, students are required to submit blue cards that contain important medical and contact information in case of an emergency. Traditionally, these cards are distributed during homeroom at the start of the new school year and are kept in the nurse’s office. However, for the 2019-2020 school year, the administration has decided to shift from physical to electronic blue cards in hopes of streamlining the system and ensuring that all information is up-to-date.

The idea to transition to online blue cards was first proposed at a school safety meeting with administration, faculty members, and parents who were concerned about the lack of efficiency in manually inputting blue cards. Additionally, parents voiced their concerns about the illegibility of handwritten blue cards—difficulty reading important contact information becomes a safety issue if a student is involved in an accident and is in need of a parent or guardian.

In partnership with MyHealth, an emergency medical company, the school administration encouraged families to submit their contact information online in hopes of minimizing complications in the case of an emergency. “[Online blue cards] solve a lot of problems, mainly because they are typing it instead of writing it, therefore reducing issues with illegibility,” CEO and Founder of MyHealth CJ Wilson said.

MyHealth’s LifeCode, a subset of MyHealth, also offers a variety of other health services to students, all of which expand the potential of organization in students’ health and safety. With permission, LifeCode can synchronize all medical records and give students access to a variety of resources. “With the collection of medical records, LifeCode is able to compile everything a first responder needs to know: medication, allergies, health conditions. With our barcode system, they can either call LifeCode or scan the barcode, which will become synced with one’s medical information as soon as they upload it,” Wilson said. Currently, only freshman and replacement student IDs contain LifeCode barcodes. However, other students may receive barcodes upon request to the administration.

In order to bring electronic blue cards to Stuyvesant, Wilson worked closely with Director of Family Engagement Dina Ingram, who first developed a digital PDF version of the blue cards. “Originally, we wanted to comply with sending blue cards every year, but since Stuyvesant is such a large school, there is just not enough manpower to accommodate for all the students. Mr. Wilson had come to me with the suggestion of making this an interactive electronic document to streamline [the system],” Ingram said. “His company took the PDF I had made and created a signable online document.”

Once Wilson was granted approval from the Department of Education to be a vendor for schools, Stuyvesant piloted the program during freshman orientations in August, encouraging parents and guardians to submit their children’s forms through MyHealth. “[The website] allows information to be updated at any time, and it automatically sends an e-mail to the nurse so the school is immediately notified of any changes,” Ingram said. All students’ digital blue cards are downloaded to the school’s Dropbox and are regularly backed up in a hard drive, allowing administration to access the information immediately instead of sifting through thousands of physical cards.

In addition to the organizational benefits the online system affords the school administration, it also accommodates families who speak other languages. “[MyHealth’s blue cards] can be filled out in the family’s home language, but will be automatically translated back to English when it is sent to the school,” Ingram said.

Assistant Principal of Safety, Health, and Physical Education Brian Moran is eager to support this new system. “[Electronic blue cards] streamline students’ information so that it is more convenient to be accessed by either the school administration or the parents. The cards can be updated whenever [necessary] instead of once at the beginning of the school year, ensuring that students’ information is, for the most part, accurate,” he said.

Students have reported little difficulty navigating the page. “It was actually very straightforward. The fields were more or less the same as the physical blue card,” junior Kyron Liu said in an e-mail interview. However, he also expressed a potential privacy concern. “The only qualm I have with the online cards is that once I filled in the required information, it wasn't too clear whether the following fields were necessary for the school (as it can be considered a privacy concern for some parents),” he said.

Moran responded to this concern with full confidence in the website’s security. “[The site] is secure so the information is still confidential. It is not shared with anyone outside of the school,” he said.

Ingram said, “Any additional information [outside the blue cards] that students choose to provide MyHealth [with] remains confidential, accessible only by emergency responders. The school’s access to their students’ profiles is limited to their blue cards.”

Despite all the benefits of this system, the transition to electronic blue cards has not been without flaws. Perhaps the largest difficulty the administration has faced is that most students are unaware that blue cards can be accessed online. So far, only parents of the incoming freshman class have received letters notifying them of the recent change. Even then, most families chose to submit physical copies of the blue cards; only about 200 of the 900 freshman students completed the form digitally.

While the integration of the new blue card system has had some minor setbacks, Stuyvesant hopes to improve the efficiency and accuracy of obtaining important medical information, especially as it concerns student safety. “Supposedly 40 percent of all medical records have an error, so it is better [if] you have copies and can see them. The number one cause of bankruptcy in America is medical errors, and so is the third most common cause of death—more than 10 times the amount of people killed by cars.” Wilson said.

Ingram is also optimistic about the online blue card system. “Because the project is still [in its initial stages], we haven’t been able to judge how successful it is yet, but we hope that within the coming years, we can digitize [all our information] in the interests of convenience and accuracy,” Ingram said.