Schools Are Doing COVID-19 Temperature Checks: Do They Really Help?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t recommend schools use them. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, called them “notoriously inaccurate.” And they can be expensive and time-consuming.

Yet more than half of U.S. district leaders say their schools are conducting or plan to do temperature checks for students and employees for in-person instruction as a means of screening for coronavirus infection, according to a nationally representative Education Week Research Center survey conducted last month.

What accounts for this discrepancy?

Without consistent national guidance from the federal government to help schools reopen safely, district leaders have turned to local public health officials and their peers when deciding which measures may help keep their communities safe. Temperature checks were a recommended strategy in many places.

A handful of states require temperature checks for students and school staff, while many more recommend them or leave the decision to individual districts based on the spread of COVID-19 in the area, according to a policy analysis by Future Ed and The 74.

Some temperature checks can be effective and worthwhile, experts say. Handled poorly, though, temperature checks can violate students’ privacy, squeeze school budgets, and pose logistical challenges.

Public health experts also have expressed a range of views on the efficacy of temperature checks in schools during the pandemic.

Ali Mokdad, a professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, thinks temperature checks can be used alongside other measures like mask wearing and social distancing. They don’t detect COVID-19 infection, but they can highlight a possible symptom of viral infection, and they can be less invasive and painful, especially for younger students, than a nasal swab.

Perhaps the best way to think about a measure like temperature checks, according to James Lawler, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases, is to imagine each preventative strategy against COVID-19 as a layer of Swiss cheese. “They all have big holes in them. But you start stacking them on top of each other and they create a level of impermeability.”

Understanding the Limitations

The Laramie County school district in Wyoming has been conducting daily temperature checks for all students and staff since school buildings reopened in August. They occur after parents and students have filled a daily symptom screening survey accessed via a QR code on their smartphones.

The district has invested federal CARES Act funds in hand-held temperature scanners for some schools and stationary thermal detectors that students walk through as they enter the building. The hand-held scanners require a “huge increase in staff time,” said Dave Bartlett, the district’s assistant superintendent of support operations.

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Automated Pass Management Temperature Screening Device. This device requires no physical interaction. Simply look at the camera and get the temperature in 1 second. Facial recognition checks-in and maintains records of the individual temperatures. Designed to help protect the health and safety of both employees and guests by preventing anyone with a temperature from entering a facility. it’s the perfect solution for office buildings, warehouses, schools, government buildings, museums, sports arenas, theme parks, movie theaters, gyms, rail stations, hotels, restaurants, or practically any public venue.

Protect your employees and customers with minimal distraction and effort.

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Temperature Screening Solution

Safely screen employees and visitors for high temperature as they walk into a building or a defined area. The system can prevent people from entering if the pre-defined temperature threshold is exceeded or are not wearing a mask, and trigger an alarm.

  • Provides fast and accurate body-temperature measurement
  • Detects if a protective mask is being worn
  • Users can be denied door or system access if a high temperature or no mask is detected
  • Alarm options include strobe light, siren and popup on PC workstation 
  • Saves data in personnel safety log and verifies records.
  • Data, alerts and reporting available

The solution combines a thermal camera and our latest face, palm and fingerprint recognition technology for employee authentication, providing advanced security and convenience, all on a single affordable device.

Used to help screen potentially affected people in the workplace and public venues:

Schools, airports, hospitals, construction sites, correctional institutions, government and office buildings