Schools in the U.S. are using electronic security technologies, including tracking beacons, contact tracing apps, thermal body temperature management solutions and social distancing video analytics modules.

It’s difficult in ANZ to comprehend the scale of the COVID-19 challenge in the U.S. where 2,100,000 people have contracted the virus and 117,000 have died, and there’s been a sudden acceleration of infection rates coinciding with America’s economic reopening.

According to a report in Wired, New Albany-Plain school district in Ohio intends to supply each of its 5000 students with a Volan Bluetooth beacon that will track movements and locations within a metre to monitor distancing, while allowing contact tracking in the event of an outbreak. Beacons are useful as they can be carried by students who are not allowed smart devices in classrooms, or who are too young to own them.

“We are very much interested in the automated tracking of students,” said Michael Sawyers, superintendent for New Albany-Plain Schools.

Sawyers said the technology could help the school determine whether social distancing is being observed and help quickly identify students who may have been exposed if someone tests positive for COVID-19. New Albany-Plain school district is also considering regular temperature checks, as well as strict enforcement of mask wearing and social distancing.

Katy Abel, associate commissioner for external affairs and special projects at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, told Wired some state universities in Massachusetts are also exploring beacons.

Meanwhile, RightCrowd, which supplies Bluetooth badges to security companies including Honeywell and Genetec, has developed a system that issues a warning if people get too close and another that can be used for contact tracing.

“We have inquiries coming from many industries, including higher education and boarding schools,” RightCrowd CEO, Peter Hill, told Wired.

Locally, many electronic security manufacturers and developers have released modules that allow contact tracing using existing management solutions, access control and video surveillance solutions, some of which are free to customers.

As the COVID-19 battle grinds on, it’s likely such functionalities will become increasingly important for schools and universities.

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