2020's back-to-school season is being threatened by a resurgence in COVID-19 cases across Ontario, spiking once again in the densely-populated Greater Toronto Area. Keeping classes moving through the pandemic will require screening and assessment measures that have not previously been necessary for educational buildings, and with space limited even before the social distancing measures now sought, new square footage is often required to allow COVID-19 screening.

A solution developed right here in Ontario and already being implemented is the "Citizen Care Pod," a joint effort of Citizen Care Pod Corp, WZMH Architects, and PCL Construction in collaboration with Microsoft, utilizing modified shipping containers to create portable screening centres with applications for any building or space where people gather.

Citizen Care Pod at The College of Carpenters and Allied Trades, image courtesy of CCAT

The retrofitted 20-foot and 40-foot shipping containers are equipped with high-tech features like Microsoft's Azure artificial intelligence, Insight’s Connected Platform data analysis service, and PCL’s Job Site Insights™ Internet of Things hub for better contact tracing, safety, and security.

One facility making use of these pods is The College of Carpenters and Allied Trades in Woodbridge, where hands-on experience is a critical component in students' curriculum. In addition to the high-tech elements of a Citizen Care Pod, simple health and safety measures like a contact tracing/sign-in book, hand sanitizer, and a window between staff/students and screeners in the pods are all visible in the pod recently installed at the College's entrance.

Citizen Care Pod at The College of Carpenters and Allied Trades, image courtesy of CCAT

The pods have the potential to greatly improve safety in critical education and jobs that require in-person attendance through screening, create fast-tracked testing facilities in underserved areas, and eventually to implement a potential mass vaccination.

The College of Carpenters and Allied Trades, image via theccat.ca

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