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ATPE Member Brings Thermal Imaging Technology to District

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 8/23/2020

With the threat of COVID-19 changing the course of the 2020-21 school year, districts are having to find new ways to keep students and staff safe. ATPE member Ty Morrow works as the coordinator of safety, security, and emergency management at Brazosport ISD and has helped bring thermal imaging technology to his district as a way to screen the temperatures of anyone who enters school buildings.
ATPE reached out to Morrow to learn more about this innovative technology.
Briefly explain what this thermal image system is, and how you acquired it?
This technology has been widely used in China, Japan, and Europe to screen people’s temperature before they enter certain facilities. The system is also used commercially to identify hotspots or fires in buildings. The United States has not embraced this technology due to the fear of privacy rights. COVID-19 has changed that perspective. Hikvision, the leader in thermal scanning, was contacted by our subject-matter experts (SME), Sam Sutherland from SAMLS & Associates Consulting and Bill King from KLC Video Security, to help the district acquire the system as a layer of screening for our students, staff, and visitors. The leadership of SAMLS & Associates and KLC Security Videos were instrumental in the district’s acquiring this valuable system at a reasonable and fair cost.
How will your district use this system?
We plan to use the system to screen students, staff, and visitors as they enter our building at the start of the school day. The system is portable, so during the day we intend to roll it into our common areas, such as the cafeteria, library, gym, etc., to spot-check students, staff, and visitors for fever. The systematic use of this system will be a reminder for us all to self-check ourselves multiple times daily for one of the early signs of COVID 19. By doing this, Brazosport ISD hopes to provide a safe and healthy environment for staff, students, and visitors.
Why do you think something like this could be so helpful to a school district?
This tool has already been successful because it is a screening device to identify individuals who may be carrying COVID-19 and not know it. If we get an abnormal reading, a trained nurse is required to evaluate the individual for additional COVID-19 symptoms. The nurse will then follow the CDC and TEA protocols for isolating the individual from our campus until they are symptom free.
What is your goal with the thermal imaging system?
To provide a safe and healthy environment for our students to learn; reduce the anxiety and fear that exists with our staff, students, and visitors about COVID-19 being on our campus; to demonstrate to the public that BISD takes the health and safety of our students, staff, and visitors seriously; and to demonstrate to the public that our staff and students come first, and we will reasonably expend funds to ensure their safety.
What do you want the public to know as educators prepare for the challenging year ahead?
This coming year has many unknowns. We (educators) need to have a plan of action, fully knowing this plan can change daily. We will never have all the information. Please use the resources you have as a force multiplier. Hikvision is just one tool that acts as a force multiplier to give us information. We then use this information to make an informed decision for the health and welfare of our staff, students, and visitors. Remember to always do the right thing, the right way, at the right time, for the right reasons, and everything else will take care of itself.
Below is Brazosport ISD’s full press release.
Brazosport ISD to Use Thermal Cameras as Added Safety Protocol
As an added layer to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff on campus during the ongoing battle with COVID-19, Brazosport ISD will utilize Hikvision Thermal Temperature cameras for both temperature and face mask checks this school year. 
These cameras are used to conduct temperature spot-checks of students, visitors, and staff. Students walk in the hallway in a regular fashion, and the camera picks up the skin temperature of up to 30 individuals at one time. The laptop monitor, which is manned by district personnel, displays the students or staff with a temperature reading above their image. There is a secondary color-coded visual image (green, yellow, red) of the staff, student, and/or visitor. Green means the person meets all requirements to enter the building. Yellow means the person has failed to put on a mask as required by the governor’s order. Red means the person is above the selected temperature requirements for entry to the building. 
There is no disruption to the flow of students, which keeps everyone separated for temperature checks. In the event that any student, visitor, or staff exceeds the threshold of 99.7 F, they will be evaluated by the campus nurse.  
Safety and Security Coordinator Ty Morrow spearheaded this endeavor to ensure that staff and students not only have their temperature checked routinely, but the cameras provide awareness of the importance of self-screening daily. He stated, “We want to make every effort to keep our schools open and safe, and I commend our school board and superintendent for always keeping staff and student safety a top priority.”