Students and staff will soon return to in-person learning — if they haven’t done so already. And while the CDC has found slower COVID-19 viral spread in K-12 schools when compared to other community places, they acknowledge that strict adherence to safety protocols helped hinder the spread.
The good news is that there are a lot of new and exciting technology options to support a safe reopening. First, though, we’re going to look at how schools can build their policies so that they can better assess what system will work for them.
1. Assess Your Current Environment
Ask questions to get into the shoes of the people that walk the campus on a daily basis: the students and staff. Understand what some of the old health and safety risks once were and figure out what the rhythm of those on the campus looks like because at the end of the day, the school has its own heartbeat that you’re trying to tap into.
- How many steps does a student or staff member take from the front door to their classroom?
- How many doors do they touch, or high-traffic areas do they pass through?
- Do they engage with anyone else during that time?
- How do people move through your building every day?
Think about how people use, cafeterias, restrooms, guidance and nurse offices, gyms, playground equipment, as well as administrative and shared utility spaces, as well as their construction. When dealing with small cramped quarters like cafeteria kitchens or offices, understanding how good the airflow can be is crucial.
2. Set New Policies and Processes
Every angle needs to be considered when developing new policies, and that means asking a lot of tough questions, like:
- Should you stagger the start and end times of classes?
- Do cohorts need to be deployed to keep interactions restricted to particular groups?
- Should you redesign how people flow in your buildings?
- Should you have exit-only areas to reduce the number of people passing through the same door?
The answers should point schools towards where they want to be in terms of health and safety once classes start opening again, but, remember, you will also need processes to enforce these policies as well.
3. Use Processes to Drive Security Systems
In that same vein, the technology you choose to help boost the health and safety of those on campus should also enhance your processes. For example, touchless door technology can contribute to a safer, more sanitary experience, but if you don’t know where people are moving throughout the building and what areas need stricter security measures, you could be opening yourself up to greater challenges down the road.
Let’s use COVID-19 as another example. Thermal monitoring or temperature reading technology can assist with symptom screening and deciding if an individual can enter the building. Health surveys delivered through apps can deliver peace of mind and quick registration for visitors. And then once inside, contact tracing badges can provide valuable data to trace viral spread in the event of an outbreak.
Technology is a great tool for building healthier, safer schools, but it’s all a matter of making sure you know what you want beforehand, so you have the right tool to protect your people on campus. You can also rely on your security partner to help better understand your school’s individual needs. A solid foundation will lead to successful reopening and healthy students and staff the whole school year long.
Another version of this article was previously published on Campus Safety.