Getting Schools Ready to Face the New Normal

In an attempt to stop the spread of the Covid-19 Pandemic among school children, the Malaysian Government took swift steps to close education institutions on March 14th. Teachers, Parents and children remained patiently at home, slowly trying to adjust to home learning.

However, reopening schools quickly remain a hotly discussed topic. On one hand, the government needs to ensure the country’s poorer students who don’t have access to a proper household computer and technology do not continue to face the loss of learning opportunity while trying to assure other parents that schools are doing enough preparations to ensure their children remain safe from harm.

Building better, healthy and safe schools

Covid-19 is the most serious pandemic that has affected schools in recent times but there are many possible infections such as flu virus and HMF that continue to threaten the safety of schoolchildren.

To safeguard the wellbeing of the school community, many discussions behind closed doors are currently being done to ensure preparation for school reopening begins immediately but to the best interest of our children.  

What happens beyond this point will not be a temporary measure but will likely be a blueprint to build healthy and safe schools that will improve education for the better.  

By observing other countries who have reopened schools, it seems that plastic partitions, masks wearing, children wearing social distancing hats, temperature checks and social distancing at classrooms would be the new norm in schools.

However, many questions remain. Questions like determining the number of people that are allowed to return into school and who returns and when remains a question mark to many.

How do we make an overall risk assessment for teachers and other staff for a staggered approach of returning to school? How might we practice social distancing in classes? Would that mean classes need to reduce in size and by how much? With school canteens remain closed and any form of gathering is strictly prohibited, how would students get their meals and proper communication? Visitors into the school should be avoided but since disinfection needs to occur in school, cleaners and contractors need to be employed. How do we ensure that they are monitored, cleared for safety and tracked for infection?

Biometrics technology and Artifical Intelligence (AI) protects Malaysian school environment.

Proper Framework for Outbreak Prevention in schools would need to be built to ensure accurate contact tracking. For example, Green Packet’s KipleLive Platform is built to isolate high risk individuals from entering the school by Face ID & User Verification and digitalization of all School SOPs.

Fever scanning is a common sight for kindergartens even before the Covid-19 pandemic. However, a mass deployment in every school may not as simple as it sounds. In smaller groups of children, it is easy to use a manual thermal scanning approach as students’ queues are not a problem.

Secondly, in a pandemic situation, there are risks of infecting authorities who are conducting temperature ready as the need to be in close proximity to check temperature breaks social distancing rules.

Since students are not being able to have mobile phones, the usage of Ai Face Recognition Thermal scanners is extremely important to ensure attendance and thermal checks are done for all students before entering the school. That is why schools are currently actively looking to deploy contactless solutions such as Ai Temperature Scanning tools to ensure that risky individuals are immediately isolated at a distance if a temperature is detected.

All these data are linked to Health Code Indicators of students which are viewable by staff and linked to their Parent’s accounts. The temperature scans records and attendance of individuals are digitalized which will support easier and quicker contact tracing.

The collaboration between Green Packet Berhad and United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (“Dong Zong”) is an interesting approach to kick start this exercise since at present, these schools have more than 81,500 students and 4,500 teachers nationwide.

Experience Matters

Green Packet has informed that the deployment of these cameras would require expertise and extensive experience in the optimization of backend configurations on both hardware and software portions to ensure accurate reading and data capturing.

Other requirements for contact tracing would require automated recording of attendance and accurate recording of student attendance at the gate to ensure that batches of students are digitally recorded in case of an outbreak happening.  

In a typical deployment for school attendance, it is recommended that 2 Face Recognition cameras be installed in the hallway near the entry gates which students walk past when they arrive at the school especially to cater to the difference in height of students.

Floors are marked with yellow tapes to guard students to walk past the “attendance zone” which is the most optimal camera view for facial detection. Since children faces are typically harder to track in terms of face recognition, only companies who are experienced in face recognition would be able to conduct optimization of student profiles to ensure the algorithm has been optimized for more accurate facial recognition for young children

School attendance portal to show the school, class and student attendance records based on the FR timestamp feeds are important. This will reduce manual work for school administrators as digital attendance portals ensure proper analytic and track records to support their assessment on risky individuals. Besides attendance, the school has repeatedly requested the “clock out” feature when students leave the school premise.

The next key problem to resolve are meal times. Previously, cashless methods in meal times are discussed to avoid bullying. With the pandemic, another important use case now increase the urgency to drive cashless schools – Social Distancing.  

Social distancing at school canteens would mean that a rapid collection of food and payment is needed to avoid queues. The handling of cash for payment is now considered unhygienic for students. Methods being discussed include getting Parents to pre-pay for recess and lunch for their kids using Cashless apps.

Children can collect pre-ordered food using Face ID or a Student Card to reduce queuing and waiting time. Artificial Face Identification links the student face to their parent’s school application which in turn authorizes the collection of prepaid meals are also being considered.

Beyond meals, this support other collection fees such as the purchase of uniforms, school books, and other purchases. The application suite provides balance reminders to parents and helps users to keep track of what they need to pay and when. These systems allow school administrators to communicate directly with parents and guardians throughout term-time.

Companies such as Green Packet who has had prior experience in various pilots in schools and private sectors informed that it takes proper deployment and optimization of hardware configurations to install this equipment in schools.

Green Packet’s kipleLive is a comprehensive end-to-end solution that comprises of artificial intelligence thermal scanners, facial recognition, cloud-hosted services, an app for parents and teachers as well as software for the management team that helps capture necessary information relevant to dealing with the virus outbreak.

On top of that, the app can also be used as a communication channel for the students, parents, and teachers, whether for broadcast announcements or targeted to an individual or a particular group within the list.

Green Packet has been pioneering digital initiatives in the education sector for quite some time. It’s kipleUNI program is currently fulfilling the needs of students, universities and merchant partners via digital platforms for multiple public universities.

GP/kiplelive team

At the present time, Green Packet feels the urgency to speed up digitalization for all schools for the protection and security of school children. They have already deployed units at several International schools including Rafflesia, Desa Park International school, now independent secondary schools. Their aim to get ready all the 10,000 government primary and secondary schools before school reopens in June.

To know more of what’s in store for you as a school operator, head over to our kipleLive School page for more info.

CMCO, MCO, new normal, Rafflesia Education Group, schools
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