Five schools in Massachusetts, US, have started using dogs to search for coronavirus in schools.
Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, far more developed than the human sense of smell, and experts have experimented with them to identify many illnesses and diseases.
Studies have also shown this in some cases Trained dogs can detect coronavirus faster than Covid tests.
The sniffer dogs used in Massachusetts are called Huntah and Duke and are two young Labradors who have been trained to spot the scent of someone infected with Covid-19.
The dogs run through empty classrooms, hallways and the canteen after the children have left the room. When they detect the presence of coronavirus, they stop, sit down, and put their paw on the desk or chair they think has the smell.
The school has seating plans for classrooms and lockers and a system where children scan a barcode at the table they sit at, in the lunch area.
This means they can find out who was sitting in the chairs and areas identified by the dogs.
Identified children and staff will then be tested to confirm if they have the virus and will follow the school’s Covid-19 procedures.
When the dogs aren’t working, they get to meet and play with the students, which the younger kids really enjoy, says Rick Medeiros, who runs the five schools. According to Mr. Medeiros, the system works very well and other schools in the US have also started using dogs.
What about the UK?
In the UK, experts are also looking at the possibility of using dogs in schools, airports and train stations, according to Professor James Logan of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHT).
He told Newsround that specially trained dogs still go through trials before they’ll be ready Start tracking Covid in places like airports.
Profession Logan – who working on research with Durham University and charity Medical Detection Dogs – also trying to develop technology based on dogs’ sense of smell.
He is working on developing devices that can stand in a classroom to continuously test the air and be able to send an alert to a cellphone if coronavirus is detected.
Other developments could include a smartwatch that could let its owner know if they’re picking up the smell associated with Covid, and even sensors that can be woven into fabric, all inspired by the sensitivity of a dog’s nose!