4 reasons why temperature checks will help schools return

Schools in the UK closed ‘until further notice’ on Friday 20th March. Eight weeks on, although there is still no confirmed date, schools have been advised to prepare for re-opening ‘from 1st June.’

But when education and childcare settings do begin to open, which looks to be highly likely before the summer holidays, what can be done to make them as safe as possible?

In January, 11 million residents of Wuhan, China went into strict lockdown. It was two months before China reported that there were no new cases of coronavirus in the country. In the weeks that followed, China has been slowly lifting lockdown measures.

There are a number of steps that businesses around the UK - and in other countries - have taken too, to allow them to begin re-opening, and making life away from home safer. One of the key measures that have been put in place by businesses is temperature checks.

Marsden introduced a non-contact thermometer to our range in March, and the result has been that we have spoken to many businesses, organisations and individuals about how they are keeping safe whilst (in the case of the businesses and organisations) endeavouring to still function effectively. Importantly, they’ve told us why they need a thermometer and how it will benefit them, their business, employees and customers.

For education, the Government issued guidelines this week. This post lists the key points of the guidance for schools. Schools will need to be able to spot those showing symptoms and, if they wish to take a more stringent approach, test the temperatures of staff and pupils daily.

A high temperature is one of two key early signs of coronavirus, so we suggest checking for a temperature as a first step - ideally, at the start of each day, before school begins.

In this blog post, we’ve compiled four reasons why using thermometers in schools will help with returning to ‘normal’.

1. Check instantly for fever

The Government guidelines state that anyone - pupils or teachers - showing symptoms can be tested for COVID-19. But without any apparatus available to test for symptoms, you could be relying on the person in question to recognise they have the symptoms. If that’s a primary school child, by the time they have alerted you to the fact that they aren’t well, they’re probably already in the classroom, have touched multiple surfaces, and have come into contact with many of their classmates.

Using a non-contact thermometer at the start of the school day, before children enter the building, would allow you to check temperatures instantly, and spot any high fevers - typically 37.8°C or higher.

2. Instil confidence in parents

Some schools are starting to ask parents the question, ‘if schools re-opened on 1st June, would you be happy to see your child return to school?’

Whilst that ‘if’ still remains a pretty big one, the question of whether parents would be happy to do this or not is still going to result in probably, very divided answers.

There may be many parents who will likely see the threat of infection as relatively low; others may be more cautious and would rather avoid any risk of their child becoming infected.

Of particular relevance here is the fact that, following the Governments suggested return date on 1st June, Unions branded this unfeasible with the media reporting their suggestion that staff ‘do not engage with any plans to re-open in 1st June.’ A story many parents will likely have seen.

Of course, schools will be keen to reassure parents that they will take right steps, at the right time. Katie, a Headteacher in Barnsley, told us that "the health, safety, welfare and wellbeing of our pupils, staff and wider community remains our top priority and will be at the forefront of our decision making and planning."

Whatever the date turns out to be, and whether your school chooses to plan for a re-open date suggested by the Government, it’s important that you show you are prepared and taking steps that meet or go further than the official guidance. Checking temperatures of pupils at the start of the day is a very clear and conscientious step that will give parents confidence in sending their child back to school.

3. Save time and reduce disruption to the school day

Adding a new procedure to the school day - checking temperatures before classes - may slow down children coming into school, but recognising a child has a temperature (or new, consistent cough - the other first sign of coronavirus) later in the day could cause far more disruption.

The Government guidance does already state that classrooms should be cleaned daily, but discovering that a child has the first signs of coronavirus mid-way through the day would mean the room would need to be cleaned immediately, as well as any surfaces the child may have touched.

4. Make your staff feel safer - and happier

Throughout this lockdown period, there has - quite rightly - been immense gratitude for frontline workers - NHS staff particularly, but also care workers, delivery drivers and those who work on public transport. There has also been the many teachers who have carried on working to allow the children of key workers to go to school.

This means that, every week, there have been teachers have been potentially risking their lives whilst doing their job. Whilst we cannot underestimate the mental strain of such a task, when schools do allow pupils to return, the risk is going to be far greater.

Checking children for the first signs of coronavirus at the start of the day will help make staff feel happier, and safer, knowing that all is being done to prevent transmission of the virus within the school.

Further reading

You can order infrared non-contact thermometers directly from Marsden by clicking here.

The Government suggests that PPE is not needed when schools return - however, should you need to provide extra protection for staff, we have a reusable face shield clicking here.

Marsden is still open for business during the lockdown period and taking orders, most of which are despatched same-day or next-day. Read our COVID-19 message here.

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