Thermal cameras can screen large groups of students coming into school buildings at once. Here are five points district leaders should consider before adopting
District leaders can improve and streamline school temperature screening procedures when students come into the building by using thermal camera technology to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.
Thermal detection can perform mass fever screening that surveils for heat radiating from people’s skin and sends alerts when temperatures are above a set limit.
“Unlike handheld thermometers like you would buy at the drug store for one-on-one screening, thermal video solutions can screen students coming in all at once so you don’t have to stop students one by one or split them up in multiple lanes as they come into the building,” says Andrew Southern, CEO of Invisible Health Technologies, a health technology company.
Here are five recommendations that district leaders should consider before and after adopting thermal camera technology.
- Think about the set up.Schools with limited budgets can purchase equipment that needs to be plugged into various devices, such as laptops. More expensive systems with less or no cords are more mobile and can be installed on various surfaces, such as carts for example. “After setting up your equipment in once place and it doesn’t work, you can roll it over to another area and try again there,” says Southern.
- Ask about privacy.As with most surveillance technology, data privacy can be a major concern. Schools need to find out if the solution records and sends videos to a third party or if mass detection screening is not recorded.
- Identify placement.“Because thermal video technology reads the temperature radiating from people’s skin, you can’t have the thermal camera technology right at the door and screen students as they come in from the extreme cold and heat,” says Southern. “We advise that you give students 60 to 90 seconds of time to acclimate inside.” Therefore, these cameras should be installed further inside the building.
- Assign staff for monitoring.“[Some systems are] set up to alert when somebody walks by with an elevated temperature, so there needs to be a staff member who can quickly pull that student aside from potentially 200 and bring them to the nurse,” says Southern.
- Realize performance maintenance will be required.Even more expensive solutions require some form of recalibration at least once per year, so schools need to set a time when school is not in session to send their camera to the manufacturer. “Some systems are accurate to a 1/3 of a degree or have a 2-degree margin of error, but to maintain that accuracy, it usually requires maintenance on a yearly basis,” says Southern.
He adds, “Thermal scanning does not diagnose an illness and there are people who can have COVID-19 and are asymptomatic. But it does give us a daily view of the health of our student body, which is better than nothing.”