Duncan’s Queen Margaret’s School pioneers thermal imaging in school reopening

Private school is first in B.C. to use new tech post-COVID-19

Queen Margaret’s School in Duncan is at the forefront of a program that is helping the world return to normal after the COVID-19 outbreak.

A private school that offers kindergarten through Grade 12, QMS is the first educational institution in B.C., and one of the first in Canada, to incorporate a thermal imaging system into its reopening health and safety plan, joining such operations as Calgary International Airport, Vancouver General Hospital, IBM, Fiat-Chrysler and Amazon USA.

The technology was purchased from Stallion Systems Inc., who approached QMS head of school David Robertson about the possibility of incorporating it into the private school’s reopening on June 1.

“Anything that could help us ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students, for me, was worthy of very close consideration,” explains Robertson. “I quickly realized that this system is not absolutely foolproof, but it’s a very big step in the right direction of attaining our goal.”

Stallion Systems’ Dahua Technology equipment was born from the lessons of the 2003 SARS outbreak, and is promoted as being able to provide the additional health security of a contact-free, speedy temperature check for all campus guests.

The Ministry of Education’s partial reopening of schools in the province came with a detailed list of requirements to ensure the health and safety of students and teachers, and Robertson was excited to add a new element to that process.

“Throughout this pandemic, with the team here at QMS, I’ve been talking about the need to be nimble and flexible in all of our planning because of the ever changing nature of our situation,” He said. “This was a perfect opportunity for us to act nimbly, decisively and secure the system in time for our anticipated return.”

QMS is using a single entry point for students, staff and campus guests, who are scanned by the thermal imaging equipment before they can proceed to classrooms. Small groups of students, all a safe distance apart, are accompanied to their rooms by teachers.

Parent Tyler Vanderputten said that he is reassured by the inclusion of the thermal imaging technology in the reopening.

“As this system will be used to monitor the body temperature of all guests to campus, it won’t make the children feel nervous about being singled out,” he said. “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. The thermal imaging system sounds great, and I trust the leadership of the school to make the right decision to keep our kids safe.”

Robertson feels the technology will have benefits well beyond Monday’s reopening.

“Most of us are expecting some form of a second wave of COVID-19 in the next six months,” he noted. “This expectancy only made further sense of our investment in this system early so that we would be even better prepared for September and beyond.”

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