Health & Safety

Keeping Everyone Safe & Healthy: How Technology Can Help

by Bob Berry

September 11, 2020

We’re all in uncharted territory this fall. The global pandemic has disrupted education for millions of students all over the world. Teachers, administrators, and parents have also had to adapt quickly to a new, difficult “normal.”

As we enter the school year, one of the biggest concerns is how to keep those returning to schools safe and healthy. Even with emergency funding through the CARES Act, district leaders have the challenge of allocating tight budgets to ensure staff and students can enjoy virus-free learning environments throughout the entire semester.

Fortunately, there are technologies and products that can help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Here are several solutions that can help you determine the best path forward for the classroom, school or district.

Detect and Protect With Symptom Screening Technology

One of the best ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in schools is to conduct regular screenings. Although these may create logistical challenges, the upside is undeniable. Through consistent symptom screenings, potentially sick students, teachers and staff can be identified early, and isolated from others before outbreaks occur.

In addition to questioning people about their symptoms, use temperature detection technology to identify abnormal body temperatures. Install no-contact temperature kiosks at main entrances and use thermal imaging cameras to assess heat sources at a distance.

No-contact temperature screening products are also valuable outside of the school building, like temperature detectors that can be installed in school buses. Finally, although not ideal for social distancing, you can take temperatures manually using forehead thermometers.

Regardless of your screening methods, share concerning results immediately with your contact tracing team members so they can inform others who may have been exposed.

Keeping Germs at bay with Sanitization Technology

Many schools are delivering education through a combination of in-classroom and online learning - or hybrid learning. Devices and other accessories will be traveling constantly between multiple environments. As a result, a multi-pronged sanitization strategy is recommended to minimize viral transmission across high-touch surfaces.

Fortunately, several technologies can help here. With portable sanitization cabinets, like those offered by Anywhere Cart and Copernicus, schools can disinfect various devices, including laptops, tablets and headphones using safe UVC light. These cabinets provide 360-degree sanitization and can clean devices in minutes. Begin and end each day with a quick zap to ensure students have sterile devices to take back home with them at the end of each day.

You can also use smart locker systems to facilitate device exchanges when necessary. For example, students can come into the school, open a locker, grab a new device and leave their broken laptop or tablet behind in the same locker without interacting directly with anyone. There are also solutions to clean the overall environment, like UVL cold foggers, that can cover a large area internally or externally in minutes.

Non-tech interventions and digital signage also support safe environments

Beyond the technologies described above, there are other ways to protect staff and students in classrooms. Obviously, social distancing and mask-wearing are critical as we await a vaccine. On the furniture front, you can install plexiglass dividers on desks to create barriers between students, especially when they are working in groups. Trox partners with several great manufacturers that make multi-use furniture for different classroom seating configurations that include safety dividers.

We also recognize how important it is for your school to showcase what precautions you are taking to promote healthy learning environments this year. We recommend you communicate openly with stakeholders about the solutions you are implementing. Consider installing digital signage from vendors like LG outside of your school to showcase your commitment to maintaining a “virus-free zone.”

Inevitably, unforeseen issues will arise. However, using the technologies mentioned here to screen for symptoms, sanitize devices and encourage safe interactions can go a long way towards calming parents and keeping students safe in classrooms.

For those who want to learn more, our Trox team would love to connect with you to help figure out your health and safety plan this fall. You can also refer to our Health & Safety Guide to learn more.

About the Author

Bob Berry is vice president of Business Development for Trox. He works side-by-side with educators to guide their technology investments to make learning more interactive, memorable and engaging for both instructors and students.