The UK Government’s schools’ inspectorate, Ofsted, has issued clear guidance to school leaders that they must avoid anyone showing any signs of Covid-19 from entering into the premises of any educational setting.
At the time of writing, the instruction has the status only of “official guidance”. Experienced headteachers and school managers, however, are fully expecting that the guidance will be upgraded to a mandatory requirement and become part of the next wave of school inspection regulations. And where Ofsted lead, the Independent Schools Inspectorate is very likely to follow.
School managers have become used to an “extension” of regulations, nearly always to be implemented at short notice, over the summer period. Some of the cynics say that the Inspectorates do this to try to catch out on schools when they recommence their new academic year in September.
One Headmaster, well known to ASIS Education, recalls receiving a new set of draft regulations for consultation on the day his school was breaking up for the long vacation. He said he had no chance to formally study or respond, let alone argue the toss with the regulators about their proposed changes. As his school was expecting to receive a visit from the Inspectors early in the new academic year, he had to pull key staff off holiday to plan and prepare for yet another change of regulatory status. Failure to be compliant at the regulatory level is a minor disaster for any school and its leadership team.
The Covid-19 related guidance on temperature checking, however, has one major benefit to it: very few people will argue with the actual need for it.
The current guidance does not specify exactly what a school is expected to do; it lets managers and others sort it out for themselves. It does, however, make it very plain that in order to prevent any student, teacher, or visitor entering school premises, checks for COVID symptoms will need to be made.
Technology is never far behind – and is frequently in front – of regulation, and there is no difference in this regard. However, early attempts at “temperature checking guns” have led to difficulties.
Some schools have found that the “guns” have simply not worked. When they have, they have involved teachers breaching the recommended social distancing rules. An arms-length is hardly a meter away, let alone two! Perhaps worst of all for the teachers having to administer the technology, they needed to be fully kitted out in Personal Protective Equipment – making them appear as distant space cadets to their students, rather than the warm friendly face of the class teacher.
Image Holders Ltd, a Bournemouth-based technology company in the ‘kiosk’ business, approached ASIS Education for help in entering the schools’ market in the UK and Europe.
The ASIS team immediately set about both a re-brand and re-positioning exercise, and saw the immediate benefits of being able to link the current technology to schools’ registration systems.
The ASIS vision was of a single solution to use facial recognition and thermal imaging technology which, in under 2 seconds, could accurately take the temperature of every student and register attendance in class at the same time. As twice-daily registration is a mandatory requirement, and as accurate records have to be shown to the Inspectorate, the solution would save hours of teacher time across any week. And school leaders would be certain that the record-keeping was totally accurate.
There are several ways in which the integration of systems can work.
The same technology can also visitor check, and where those guests are regulars to the school, the system can be pre-loaded with information about DBS compliance – another key Inspection requirement.
The SCHOOL GUARDIAN: HEALTH & SAFETY STATION is the result of a brilliant technology solution combining with outstanding knowledge of how schools work. The ASIS Education approach to solving school management problems by innovative technology has no better example than in the partnership with Image Holders.