When parents think about getting their kids back to school, it would be nice if they only had to worry about getting the required school supplies together. Unfortunately, they have a host of new things to worry about with COVID-19 at the top of the list.

Meeting parents’ expectations for security and safety during a pandemic is a monumental task. What parents consider to be basic safety and security measures has evolved to include considerations about disease mitigation.

COVID-19 Measures
School administrators are considering a wide variety of solutions to open schools and keep them open. Temperature screening with staff safety in mind is a critical consideration. Technologies are available that can provide preliminary body temperature screening at high-volume entrances. However, even with high-volume systems, student flow into the building will certainly be impacted. The primary advantages of these systems are that they remove manual temperature screening staff which reduces risk to staff and increase ingress into the school. Worth noting is that the systems must still be monitored, and a process must be in place for secondary temperature screening and symptom checking.

Schools can consider implementing touch-free doors to reduce the risk of disease transmission. When touch-free isn’t possible, specially coated door handles can be installed which reduce disease spread.

Video surveillance
Most schools have some sort of video surveillance in place. However, many systems go unchecked until an emergency occurs. Today, video surveillance equipped with video analytics can provide immediate local alerts to administrators and security officers for large gatherings in hallways, the cafeteria, gymnasium, and other areas of potential congregation. Also, consider adding a handful of cameras to eliminate known vulnerabilities or where new risks related to COVID-19 may exist. Beefing up an existing system is simple and can be done quickly.  Take the time now to look at your cameras in live mode and review recorded video from each camera to ensure that they are recording properly. Faulty recording, dirty lenses, and improper fields of view are common, easily remedied problems.

Door control and intercom
Controlling access to the primary entrance is critical. Funneling of students and visitors may now be required to provide for social distancing and a variety of pre-entry screening processes. Locking the doors during school hours adds a layer of security and ensures that anyone entering is screened for signs of illness prior to entering. Consider installing an intercom system to communicate with visitors at a safe distance before they enter the building. Be sure that there is a video feed associated with the audio feed which allows school personnel to see who is talking to them.

Mass notification
When an emergency occurs, it’s important for students and staff to react properly. Messages about health and safety situations are more important than ever.

The process of automatically evacuating a building in the event of an emergency are no longer applicable and can be dangerous. Now, it is critical to provide building occupants with exact situational information in a clear, calm voice, at a volume level appropriate for the ambient noise level so that they can make the best decision for sheltering in place or evacuating. Depending on the emergency type and location, what action they decide to take will vary. Getting this important information to them within seconds can involve a variety of alarm and voice annunciation systems that work in unison to deliver pre-recorded or on-the-fly messages immediately.

Cyber security
Securing sensitive student information has been a top priority for school systems for years and this year is no exception, especially with distance learning becoming a staple during the COVID-19 pandemic. School networks are potentially more vulnerable to cyber risks. Be sure your IT department is aware of the risks involved in deploying cameras and other security devices on the network. Federal government agencies have growing concerns over the security of IP-enabled cameras, recently limiting which manufacturers can be sold to the federal government and other entities who may use federal grants and funds to purchase security solutions. Be sure to research “NDAA requirements” as related to security systems. The IT department is constantly working to secure the information, and this may be a topic they have yet to consider.

Health and Security Priorities
The Vision team is ready to help you protect your students, teachers, and visitors from illness, injury, theft, and physical altercations. We can help implement immediate fixes and design long-term solutions. We’ll navigate initial discussions with all stakeholders by clearly explaining the various technologies and how they operate and impact the overall safety and security plan. We’ll help to dispel many of the concerns of parents and the community leaders. Once a plan is approved, our experienced and professional design and installation team will ensure your school and surrounding grounds are protected.