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How Physical Security Will Aid the Return to In-Person Education

Michael Nutter

August 12, 2020

Physical security systems can help K-12 schools enforce safety measures and recuperate financial value as they reopen in the fall.

K-12 schools in Ohio are preparing to reopen for an unprecedented academic year. Schools resuming classroom learning will be implementing social distance measures in compliance with state guidance, and many will be adopting a hybrid model that includes remote learning. To help, administrators are exploring new technologies to help incorporate enhanced security measures into their education plans.

While the switch to remote learning is attracting widespread attention for its use of online technology to prioritize health and safety, school districts must also consider how physical security plays a role in the “new normal” of education. Like other institutions and venues, schools returning to the classroom must help students avoid potential infection while receiving their lessons. Beyond social distancing and face coverings, maintaining a level of safety while the pandemic continues will require districts to exercise creativity around physical security measures.

Why Physical Security Is More Important Than Ever

When K-12 schools closed their doors in April, technologies like Zoom and Google Classroom rightly took center stage to aid the continuation of education. But as some schools now plan to cautiously reopen for in-person instruction, there are other technological solutions school districts can and should consider for this phase of the pandemic. Foremost among them are physical security systems, which can be a valuable tool for protecting students, faculty, and staff from the spread of COVID-19.

While children and young adults tend to be less vulnerable to the worst effects of COVID-19, they can still be infectious carriers and accelerate the spread of the virus. In addition, the CDC is still assessing the many instances of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children who have contracted COVID-19. Without careful management and the right tools, schools can easily become a hub for super spreaders.

Physical Security Measures to Keep Students Safe

Improving physical security will help schools remain safe and secure and help prepare for new waves of the virus. Beyond traditional objectives such as nighttime monitoring and asset protection, security systems are rapidly becoming a way to protect public health as larger venues reopen. Here are some of the distinct advantages video surveillance systems can offer as schools begin to welcome their students back to campus:

1. Enhance monitoring for properties that remain closed or have few staff on-premises.

K-12 schools may be reopening, but many classrooms will still remain closed for part — or even most — of the year. To ensure they are secure from theft and vandalism while staff and students are away, school districts should consider adopting advanced security surveillance systems to discourage unauthorized access.

With the right security system, administrators can view live-feeds remotely on a computer, tablet, or smartphone and alert the authorities in case of suspicious activity. In addition to preventative effects, surveillance systems can also be used to record footage and assist with investigations in case of break-ins and property theft.

2. Keep a record of foot traffic and student activity.

Reducing the spread of COVID-19 depends on catching cases early and contact tracing whenever possible. Schools will need to act quickly in the event that a student or a member of the staff tests positive for the virus. While true contact tracing may be difficult, keeping a record of student movement and foot traffic on school premises will help determine how many students may have come into contact with the virus in the event of a positive test result.

Footage and records of student movement will also enable administrators to alert individuals who need to be tested before they spread the virus to family members and neighbors. Adopting monitoring solutions will also give administrators visibility into which areas are most heavily trafficked, to help facilitate social distancing and understand which areas need to be monitored to enforce social distancing measures.

3. Adopt surveillance tools — such as thermal cameras that track temperatures — to monitor for cases of COVID-19.

Finally, to comply with local guidelines that aim to protect the health of staff and students, most school districts will require face coverings when accessing campus facilities. Many will also look to implement temperature checks at school entrances to prevent those with COVID-19 symptoms from entering the classroom. Instead of conducting temperature scans manually, physical security technologies such as thermal cameras can help. By using thermal cameras to gauge temperature ranges, schools can scan the body temperatures of students and personnel as they enter the school and monitor changes at any number of checkpoints.

Whatever physical security measures your school district decides to adopt, Vinson Shield can help. Vinson connects schools directly with experts to determine the unique physical security solution suited for your schools. Our experts will work with you every step of the way — we help you acquire funding, implement new systems, and conduct staff training so your team knows how to best utilize the technology. With the right security system, you can help ensure that your students, faculty and staff stay healthy and safe whenever classrooms fill up with students again.

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