Screenshots of lessons. (Courtesy of Dan Teran)

ESL Works is a New York-based startup that provides mobile training to help food service workers learn English. As COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, began spreading rapidly, the company began to push out hygiene training to its users as well.

Clients were thankful for the new service. And, when Dan Teran, an investor in the company, heard about it, he quickly saw “a way to create the most value.”

Teran, the founder and CEO of office operating system Managed by Q, helped repurpose ESL Works’ platform into, which provides free, generalized health training for frontline workers who do not have first-responder training. The 2010 graduate of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences recruited a few Q alums to help with the project.

“Overnight, we stood up a whole team,” Teran says.

A couple of hundred companies in the food service, retail, hospitality and manufacturing industries are already using to reach tens of thousands of workers, according to Teran.

The team, including Dan Teran, third row middle. (Courtesy of Dan Teran)

The mobile training is done through conversational text messaging, with information based on guidelines established by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. As guidelines change, so does the training; information about the use of masks was added “almost overnight,” Teran says.

The eight lessons — each of which takes about five minutes to complete — cover topics such as COVID-19 basics, how to sanitize your phone and how and when to wash your hands. The information is written with its audience in mind, Teran says. Health officials warn that the virus can live up to 24 hours on cardboard, so instructs users to wash their hands after every delivery.

After the pandemic ends, health training will become part of ESL Works’ offerings, according to Teran. Until then, he hopes will help as many frontline workers as possible.

“This is going to be a defining moment of our generation,” he says. “It feels good to be able to contribute in some way.”