What is the app? Is it free? What kind of information can be submitted?
- The PFT Healthy Schools Tracker Mobile App allows users to identify specific problems with building conditions in schools, including the location, type and magnitude of problem, including the ability to submit photos.
- It is available for free download onto Apple and Android mobile devices [links provided below] and available on the PFT web site [www.pft.org].
- Conditions such as leaks and water damage, mold, peeling paint, compromised materials (like mold on chairs or wet books), floor tile damage, pest droppings, temperature, can all be reported.
- It helps act as an early warning system, and can identify problems when they start and prevent more expensive or consequential problems.
- It’s main purpose is to get problems fixed and fixed quickly and well
Who is managing the app?
- The PFT Healthy Schools Tracker mobile app was commissioned and is being supported and used by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund (PFT) in order to identify problem conditions in school buildings to help in getting solutions implemented efficiently and effectively.
- The Philadelphia Healthy Schools Initiative (PHSI) is a coalition of community organizations, parent groups, educators and more. PFT is one of the founding members of the PHSI and PHSI is supporting the use of this app as an important tool to help advocate for healthy and safe building conditions.
Is this just for PFT members?
- No. Anyone can use this app. Parents, students, other staff, community members and the organizations that partner with schools can all use the app. Anyone with information about current school conditions is encouraged to report.
- This is citizen science and crowd-sourcing at its best; people who are most directly affected that can identify the issues that need to be addressed.
- The more data there is, the better we will be able to understand the problems and what is needed to make our schools safe and healthy.
Who gets the data?
- The PFT gets the data from the app and has agreed to provide summaries of the reported problems to the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) as part of their work with them to address learning conditions deficiencies.
- PFT will be working to identify useful ways to share and report findings with policy leaders and the community to help inform our ability to take action.
- PFT will also work with SDP on the actions, and time frames, taken to address the identified problems.
Are people allowed to make submissions without permission?
- Union members are allowed to submit information about sub-standard or unhealthy or unsafe conditions to their unions and are, in fact, being encouraged to do so by the PFT.
- No one should be penalized for reporting unsafe or unhealthy conditions in our schools. The PFT has said there are no rules, regulations or other that precludes anyone from reporting problems to the PFT. The PFT has stated that it will defend and support anyone who is harassed or otherwise penalized for reporting building condition deficiencies and environmental hazards and concerns through the mobile app or any other way.
- We believe most principals will welcome the opportunity to tackle these challenges systemically, so it isn’t left to individuals to cope. Principals need parent and teacher involvement and their support to get deficient building conditions addressed.
Can I use the app and report issues anonymously?
- This information is being reported to The PFT and they will not be reporting on individual users, or providing anyone’s name, email address or other personal information without their permission.
- It would be very helpful if users provide contact information in order to receive, updates and other feedback; in some cases, the PFT may not be able to follow-up if sufficient details are not provided and if there is no way to get back in touch with people.
Will I get a direct update about what happens with the information I submit? Will it mean the problem gets fixed (is it like a work order request)? What will PFT do with the information?
- This is not an official work order, the school district itself processes those. Staff are still responsible for reporting problems to Principals and Building Engineers, as is the current procedure.
- But you should also report directly through the app as well. This will help with problem reporting and tracking and with getting things fixed and it will help with identifying working condition patterns that need to be tackled.
- At this time, there will not be individual updates in response to reports in the app. There will be summaries of actions taken resulting from PFT conversations with the district sent to users who submit contact information.
- There will be regular communication between PFT and district officials to address working conditions. They will be compiling information, inspecting sites and following up on the status of work orders to ensure that action is being taken to address problems and that the most serious problems are addressed quickly.
- PFT will be keeping people informed about The PFT is also sharing information with, and obtaining updates about evaluations, response and outcomes by working directly with the district on these issues.
I don’t want to make schools look bad.
- That isn’t the goal! Everyone in Philadelphia wants our schools to succeed. We know that good schools are important to individual well being and to quality of life.
- As long as these are treated as individual problems, then we will shame schools and communities for the difficulties they face. Making this a priority across the city will make it easier to identify systemic solutions and to work together to get the resources we need to fix it.
- Everyone in Philadelphia knows the challenges our school district has faced and people have tried hard to manage under very difficult circumstances. SDP is more stable financially; combine that with new technology and now is the time to act differently to solve these problems.
How can I get started using it?
- Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=1334648183&mt=8
- Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pft
- The app is really simple, you can register which makes it easier to use it, but you don’t have to.
- You open the app then choose a school
- Identify the specific location of the problem (which classroom or part of the facility), identify the type of problem, give a few details about the size or frequency of the problem; then, you can provide any more information you think it relevant.
- Snap a picture and hit submit. It’s just that easy.
We are encouraging everyone – educators, parents, students, staff, community members – to participate in this “citizen science” gathering of data. More data will help us plan how best to solve the problems.