Queen Margaret’s School in Duncan is taking a page from Vancouver General Hospital, Calgary International Airport and a number of other sites by adding a thermal-imaging system to its safety plan.
The $25,000 system — a first for an educational institution in B.C. — was in place Monday, checking temperatures of people as they entered the school. A fever can be a symptom of COVID-19.
The equipment being used stems from lessons learned from the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS, and attracted the interest of Queen Margaret’s head of school David Robertson. The school has 375 students from pre-kindergarten to Grade 12.
“Like most people, everybody’s been looking for some certainty in a world of uncertainty, as I put it,” Robertson said. “So the more reassurance we give people that we are trying to create a safe ‘bubble’ for the kids and staff to come into, the better.
“It’s just another tool in your toolbox to try and create something safe.”
The school’s plan calls for students, staff and guests to use one door where they can be scanned by the system, which can check 30 temperatures per second.
Physical-distancing measures are in place, as well.
Parent Tyler Vanderputten supports use of the system, noting body temperature of all visitors to campus will be monitored, so the children won’t feel singled out. “Also, as there will probably be a second wave of COVID-19 in the future, there will be an ongoing need to monitor children’s health.”
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday she wouldn’t recommend the scanners for other schools, saying they’re not necessary. Children exhibit very mild symptoms of the virus, she said, and only about three-quarters of people with COVID-19 develop a fever.
“More important is the health check, making sure that we check in with our children and with ourselves, every day, before we get on the school bus, before we go into the classroom, before we go into school, to make sure that we are feeling OK, because there are many other symptoms that can show up as well,” Henry said.