Athens City Schools invests in tool to keep school system healthy and secure

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ATHENS, Ala. – When you walk into an Athens City School building, you may be prompted to check-in at a temperature reading kiosk. It only takes one second and the technology itself will have several purposes beyond COVID-19 precautions.

The district purchased 20 OneScreen GoSafe face scanners for roughly $50,000. Which likely could not be purchased by many districts in Alabama had it not been for the CARES Act.

“The nurse can monitor it from her desk or the front office person can monitor it from their desk. It has a date, time and the face so the nurse knows exactly who goes through,” said Michael O’Rear, the Student Services Coordinator for Athens City Schools.

The device can send email and push alerts to whoever needs to know if someone spikes a fever. It was the spiking of COVID-19 cases that gave ACS the final push they needed to invest in the technology.

“Numbers began to spike and then we got to thinking about flu season going forward. That’s always going to be here, COVID or not. So at that point we thought it was a good investment for the schools,” said O’Rear.

Athens City Schools says in the past, flu caused 20 percent of their students to be out of school.

As far as keeping track of those students who are in school, GoSafe can use facial recognition with or without a mask and can sync to ID cards and even to automatic doors if entry is approved. If not, the screen will flash “stranger.”

“It can connect to our student information system down the road. If we did require everybody to walk in front of it, it would actually take attendance and let us know who’s here,” said O’Rear.

The district isn’t sure yet if they will use the attendance function. As of this moment, not all students and staff are required to scan to enter the building as the system is still being deployed across the district.

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