The Challenge: Preventing COVID-19 Spread Across School Campuses

Roane County Schools, a rural school district in West Virginia serving approximately 1,900 students across one high school and four middle and elementary school campuses, is dedicated to providing each child with the best educational opportunities possible and supporting them academically, emotionally, physically, and socially. For Roane County Schools’ leadership, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, that mission has proven more critical than ever before.

The staff at Roane County Schools began planning during spring of the prior school year to assess how they would manage school re-entry in the fall. They wanted to do so in way that would be safe for everyone, and would support the efficient screening of anyone that enters the building, including teachers, students, and visitors.

Because the schools in the Roane County Schools district are older, they don’t have the wider, open hallways and entrances that many newer schools have incorporated into their design. Additionally, because they are a small, rural district, Roane County Schools simply doesn’t have the staff to support conducting temperature screening on a one-by-one basis. Working with physical constraints and limited resources, district leadership is constantly searching for ways to do more with less.

In addition to addressing general concerns about managing the overall speed and efficiency of their entry screening processes, Roane County Schools also had to consider the impact of impending adverse weather conditions. They needed to avoid a situation where safety screenings were being performed, but in a slow and inefficient manner that could result in students and staff standing in lines outside in frigid temperatures.

Leadership recognized the shortcomings of manual temperature-taking using hand-held devices as a primary means of conducting fever screening assessments. While Roane County Schools had hand-held thermometers that could be used for individual follow-up temperature screenings, those devices are inherently slow and can be inaccurate if improperly used.

The Solution: Deployment of Clear2there Body Temperature Measurement Systems

With a focus during their planning stages on ensuring an expedient, accurate, and safe screening program for students and staff, Roane County Schools turned to their technology partner Frontier Communications, who recommended the Clear2there Body Temperature Measurement System. Operating with a high sense of urgency to get a solution in place and ready to use by the start of the new school year, they moved quickly to review the Clear2there solution’s features and capabilities to confirm that it could properly address their requirements.

Roane County Schools was able to incorporate the Clear2there system as an integral part of a re-entry plan across all of their campuses. The system was deployed at the main entrances of all five of the district’s schools, with a consistent entry process implemented at each campus location. A member of the school staff, as well a member of the local hospital staff, sits at the door as students and teachers come in. If an elevated temperature is detected, that individual stands to the side momentarily, and is re-screened using the thermal system. Should that individual continue to display a high temperature, the medical staff will take over, and they will screen with a hand-held thermometer to obtain a second data point. If a high temperature is again noted, the affected person is isolated and a medical evaluation is conducted.

The benefits of the system relative to accuracy and speed were immediately apparent. Because the camera self-calibrates via the blackbody device, it helps to ensure more precise temperature readings. As it relates to efficiency, Roane County Schools was able to process entire groups of students and staff at speeds comparable to their normal pre-COVID entry processes.

From a safety perspective, community response to the system has been positive, as it has reassured the public, particularly parents, that any individual presenting with a fever will be screened out quickly, and will then undergo further medical evaluation with hospital staff.

The Clear2there system has also proven beneficial in supporting other aspects of Roane County Schools’ re-entry plan, particularly with respect to mask wearing and physical distancing. School leadership is requiring 100 percent indoor mask-wearing. Because faces can be seen very clearly via the camera image, it can be detected if an individual is wearing a mask or not. This has helped with ensuring adherence to and accountability of the face mask policy.

With the smaller entrances Roane County has at each of their school buildings, it is especially important to keep students moving along in an orderly and expedient fashion. The Clear2there system has helped to keep students and staff moving quickly during transition periods, and has reduced instances of unwanted congregation.

Post-COVID, the system may continue to provide value as it relates to the overall health and wellness of students, staff, and families in the school community. The solution can be used to identify not just possible COVID cases, but also the flu, strep throat infections and other contagious illnesses that may present with fever. Because the Clear2there thermal imaging system is a non-contact, non-invasive, passive system, it can alert to a potential problem without creating any inconvenience or discomfort for screened parties.