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Optimizing Surveillance And Health Security At Educational Institutes

To re-open schools and colleges, educational institutes will have to re-evaluate their current standard operating procedures to tackle a public health issue.

With the advent of the pandemic, nearly 1.3 million students were put out of schools and colleges. This impacted every student, teacher, professor, and the entire education ecosystem. With the number of active cases witnessing a decrease, several state governments are exploring options to reopen education institutes so that students can go back to their brick and mortar classroom and education is not further impacted. It is important for students to gradually return to class, albeit with all precautions to maintain the quality of knowledge sharing that is possible only with face-to-face interaction as well as peer-to-peer learning. 

The lockdown has made more and more students agitated with a study from home set up affecting concentration and productivity. However, to re-open schools and colleges, educational institutes will have to re-evaluate their current standard operating procedures to tackle a public health issue and adopt new security solutions to safeguard the overall institution as these spaces are co-shared with nearly 50 people at a time.  Health security risk cannot be ignored and needs immediate attention. Educational Institutes can adopt both physical and health security measures which will help them get students back to attending classes on campus, reassuring them and their parents at the same time. Today, India is one of the largest markets for Education. The Indian education sector is expected to reach US$ 1.96 billion by 2021 with around 9.5 million students. India is also a premier destination for attracting students from overseas to study in the universities here as per the new education policy. Hence, it becomes important for educational institutes and the leaders of these institutions to ensure the absolute safety of the students and teaching faculty working out of campuses once they re-open post lockdown. 

To help re-boot the entire sector, the key factors that play an important role in the revival post-pandemic are ensuring the health safety and security of those working out to campus and initializing new solutions. Here are some techniques that can be adopted by schools and colleges to optimize their surveillance and security to ensure public health security. 

  • Adoption of contactless technologies – one of the key points to keep in mind while reopening educational institutes is to minimize human touchpoints at all intersections and avoid assembly in large numbers. This can be done by adopting new technologies of surveillance and sanitization. Schools and colleges can use a turnstile hand sanitizer dispenser along with a thermal scanner for body temperature in place of manual tracking at the main entrance of the campus. These thermal scanners can help teachers to keep a check on students’ health and eliminate high risk students for their safety. This will also help to streamline entry and access into any particular area and ensure that all students, staff are sanitizing their hands before entering a premise
  • Increased surveillance to monitor social distancing – Upon checks at entry, institutes will have to keep a constant check on students and others on campus without causing hindrance during classroom hours. A tactful way to do so is by deploying surveillance cameras at various points that enable the administration to surveil the parameters of the campus and ensure that people are practicing social distancing within the premise, maintaining distance at various junctures like the cafeterias, water coolers, field, labs, etc. This can be managed with human intervention and easing students with surveillance while protecting their privacy. Adoption of new generation surveillance cameras can help to monitor all protocols are being followed
  • Optimizing structure and design – To accommodate new security solutions, schools, as well as colleges, will have to undergo structural and design changes. Space and storage management can help students as well as teachers to contract fewer infections from surfaces and objects. Post the lockdown, educational institutes should look at optimizing their current structures and facilities to streamline classrooms, halls, and other common areas.  New design changes to be made in such a way that allows students to comfortably work, study, and perform other activities. 
  • Dividing Classroom time – Classrooms are always structurally designed to accommodate security. Most classrooms can fit nearly 50-80 students at one time basis in the campus area. Post lockdown many educational institutes can look at optimizing their classroom time by conducting classes in different batches that fit the needs of the students. This will ensure that classes that require labs or PT can rotate and at the same time ensure that not many people have to gather at a particular area for a long time while also maintain a six feet distance.  
  • Medical Personnel on campus – While most campuses have medical staff to deal with emergency issues and concerns for students, it is now more than essential to have medical personnel to test and treat students with infectious diseases or any communicable diseases. Trained staff can eliminate students who are at risk and provide sound medical advice to students to take care of their illnesses
  • Sanitization of self and surface – Deploying a turnstile sanitizer is an easy way to ensure that the people in these spaces are constantly sanitizing their hands but that at the same time it is of utmost importance to use sanitized objects/equipment to avoid the spread of diseases from surfaces. Cafeterias can start using paper-based disposable cutlery and plates for students and staff. Sanitizing of surfaces and daily classroom equipment is important for teachers and teaching members. Classrooms, as well as teacher's lounges, can be equipped with UV Sanitization boxes to store notebooks, test papers, stationery to sanitize them before use. Post pandemic to be extra cautious, schools and colleges too should adopt UV technology-enabled UV cases which can be used to sanitize any object that is brought from the outside like phones, masks, wallets, etc. 

Medical researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and scientists across the world are working on active vaccines to help us fight this pandemic. There have been many breakthroughs to develop the cure to COVID-19 but while the greatest minds are at work, as individuals we need to ensure our safety. This is critical for the nation to adhere to guidelines and for the betterment of students across the country, educational institutions should help students return to campuses without being constantly paranoid. Not just students, with the right security guidelines in place parents too, will be at ease in sending their children back to campus. All educational institutions will have to indulge in one-time investments that reassure their students, helps campuses to get back to business as usual, and lastly help the economy to revive from the slump. Adoption of new technologies and techniques will go a long way in ensuring linear growth for all sectors and in turn even the economy.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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