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Many Questions – Not Many Answers
Safety has always been a number one, uncompromising priority for school systems. No matter where a student is during their school day—on the bus, in a class, or heading back home—their well-being continues to be a major focus for teachers, administrators, school bus operators and more. But ensuring their safety has never looked like this before.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming 2020-21 school year poses many obstacles for those in the school industry, including forcing districts to decide if they will even return to in-person classes. As such, the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) guidelines are not black and white, nor do they offer a simple solution for returning to school.
With so many questions and no answers in the air, how do districts attempt to formalize plans for the quickly approaching school year?
Ultimately, any decisions rely on the district and local government to determine what best course of action, based on a variety of factors such as exposure rates within the city or accessibility for online lessons. For much of the country, the possibility of only having online classes comes at a price—literally and figuratively.
While the physical expense is an outright difficult cost for districts to cover, the CDC is stressing the emotional and mental toll a lack of community can have on students: “social interaction among children in grades K-12 is important not only for emotional wellbeing, but also for children’s language, communication, social, and interpersonal skills.”
Because of this, many schools are developing limited capacity and rotating class schedules in which groups of students alternate between in-person classes some days and online lessons on others, thus also limiting the number of students on a school bus. However, even with rotating schedules, the issue of ensuring safety is still present.
Fortunately, though there are not any clear answers on how to ensure health and safety at school, there are companies who are determined to make it easier than anticipated. Ranging from sanitizing products to air purifiers, many developers are creating products that simplify the process of handling the virus. Of these, Safety Vision has developed a new IR Thermometer to assist districts with safety, on-campus or on school buses.
Built with a high-precision temperature sensor, the stand-alone thermometer has multiple mounting options for contact-free measurement. It can be attached within the bus entry or on an adjustable stand at the school entrance to read the temperature of a student, faculty, or other staff member.
Constructed with social distancing in mind, the thermometer measures the temperature of a forehead or palm of the hand that is up to three inches away and audibly states if the temperature is normal or abnormal. In comparison to a common thermometer gun, which breaks CDC guidelines by requiring people to be closer than six feet apart, Safety Vision’s device requires no human contact or interaction.
Thus, operational efficiency is not impacted as temperatures are displayed on the screen, allowing bus operators and facility administrators to proceed through their routines in a timely manner. Due to the implicit need to protect students and staff, none of the data gathered is tracked or maintained.
Simply used as an assistance tool, the IR Thermometer is not a medical device that is intended to determine if a person or student is sick. Instead, the thermometer was built to alleviate the pressure of mitigating any potential risks and increasing awareness of possible transmission.
By placing the device in various entryways, students’ and staffs’ temperatures can be monitored; one of the most common symptoms of the virus without coming into close contact with anyone. Therefore, limiting person to person interactions while gaining awareness of possible hazards.
What Districts Can Do
In addition to implementing new limited capacity, rotating schedules to school and bus operations, districts can utilize products, such as the IR Thermometer, to gather insight on potential risks to students and staff.
Since the CDC strongly encourages returning to in-person classes, it is important to put procedures into place that limit social interactions while simultaneously encouraging safe and healthy student and staff well-being.
In the end, it is up to districts and their local officials to determine how to best regulate health in the new school year. While this is no easy or simple task to take on, with the use of assistance-type products, districts are enabled to protect students and staff by continuously measuring and monitoring their safety.