Wireless sensors can help schools protect staff and student health

Wireless sensors can help schools protect staff and student health

School teachers and administrators know that adults can’t be everywhere on campus to enforce the rules. That ongoing challenge has more serious consequences than ever in the age of Covid-19, because when students break the rules on mask wearing, physical distancing and quarantine, they put the campus and surrounding community at risk of infection.

In order to maintain safety and reduce the risk of outbreaks that further disrupt education, K-12 schools, colleges and universities that are holding in-person classes need more tools to monitor compliance with coronavirus precautions. Relying on faculty and staff to keep tabs on students’ behavior at all times while they’re also adapting to new instructional methods and managing their own health precautions is not a realistic strategy. Neither is hiring new people to monitor student activity in every part of the campus at all times.

Wireless sensors, though, can help with this critical task by giving administrators instant access to real-time data about movement through corridors, the number of people entering and leaving classrooms and dormitories, and other important information on crowds, distancing and mask wearing.

How sensors can help reduce crowding in campus buildings

Staying at least 6 feet apart is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, but it can be a challenge for students of any age to stick to the rules. After a spring and summer of being isolated at home, many children and young adults are willing to bend the rules to reconnect with their friends, but it’s important to follow the safety guidelines.

With a low-cost wireless sensor network that includes motion sensors, door sensors and wireless video cameras, schools can keep track of how many people are in hallways between classes, in cafeterias and gyms, and in other areas on campus.

For example, if there’s a limit on the number of people who can enter the band hall during a period to avoid crowding, a door sensor plus a video camera can help keep things safe. The door monitor tracks the number of times the door is opened and closed. If the number exceeds a threshold set by school administrators during a set time frame, they can get an alert via email, text message or automated voice call.

That alert doesn’t require the administrator to walk to the band hall to investigate. Instead, it can cue them to look at the video monitor in the hall to see whether there is, in fact, overcrowding going on. If so, then it’s time to take action to reduce the number of people in the space. If not (for instance, if one student was bringing multiple instruments into the hall in separate trips), activities can continue as usual. The same approach can be used to monitor activity levels in dining halls, dormitory lounges, quarantine facilities and corridors.

Monitoring mask-wearing in classrooms, libraries and other facilities

Wireless video cameras can also help with another area that can be a challenge for children and young people – wearing masks consistently and properly. When the teacher steps out of the classroom, or when a student is reading in a library study carrell, some students may be tempted to remove their mask or pull it down below their nose.

With access to real-time video, teachers and library staff have a live view of student safety practices even if they’re not able to see them at the moment. Knowing that there’s video monitoring can also encourage students to comply with mask rules even when there’s not an authority figure nearby.

How sensor data gets from classroom or dorm to school administrators

First, staffers install the sensors, which are small, battery powered devices about the size of a matchbox that only require screws, double-stick adhesive, or zip ties to install. When activated, the sensors start relaying data securely to the wireless sensor network’s gateway, a small device that can be installed in the administrative offices.

The gateway automatically detects all the sensors on the network and starts collecting their data in real time. This stream of data is encrypted and sent to servers in the cloud, where Swift Sensors protects the data and makes sure the hardware it’s stored on is secure and up to date.

From the cloud, school employees with login access can see the data displayed on their school’s wireless sensor network console. They can view the console on their computer, tablet or smartphone. School administrators can also set different levels of access for different employees. For example, the head of the science department might have access to all the sensor data from the science classrooms, labs and storage areas, while the head of food service can see what’s going on in the dining halls and kitchens.

Each sensor can be set to send alerts at a threshold that staffers choose, as with the band hall door sensor example. By placing wireless video cameras near the sensors, school employees can reduce the amount of time they have to spend physically checking on alerts.

Wireless sensors can help reduce the risk to schools and their communities

Many schools and universities have invested a lot of time and money to make their campuses safe for students, but it only takes a handful of safety violations to undermine those efforts. With a low-cost wireless sensor system that installs in a few hours, schools can protect their investment in practices designed to protect the health of students, teachers and staff members.

Are you looking for cost-effective ways to make your school safer? Tell us what you need and learn how Swift Sensors can help.

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