Schools make excellent environments for the spread of disease. Crowded conditions, and overall poor hygiene contribute to children contracting illness and passing it along to their families. Poor hand washing habits poses a particular problem, because kids don’t understand the importance of using soap and water to prevent disease. Usually, they struggle with remembering to wash hands after toileting and before eating. Children also cough and sneeze without covering their mouths, potentially infecting those who are close by. They touch everything, including each other, and they often share one another’s food and drinks. On the bright side, children are sometimes more than willing to practice social distancing, just not for the purpose of staying healthy.

It is extremely important that schools have plans to mitigate disease outbreaks. Most schools are instructed to send home all students, teachers and staff “who present with fever and/or respiratory infection symptoms home immediately. Separate them from others until they go home. When feasible, identify a ‘sick room’ through which others do not regularly pass.” (“School Guidance on Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19”, California Department of Public Health, March 7, 2020) Responsiveness and consistent screening is crucial to identify new illness. This kind of comprehensive intervention requires that schools have the tools they need to effectively measure the temperatures of those who appear to be ill.

Fever is often the first sign of potentially serious illness. Body temperature above 36-37°C (98-100°F) is considered fever. Our immune system uses high body temperature to fight infection, making it difficult for a virus to replicate itself. A very important tool in the identification and management of serious illness is a thermometer. Using a thermometer which is FDA approved and certified as a medical device appropriate for taking human temperature is of crucial importance. This class of thermometers can be trusted to provide accurate results every time.

Non-contact infrared thermometers, in particular, are quite useful. When confronted with a highly contagious disease, a thermometer like this can be a powerful weapon. Non-contact infrared thermometers make it possible to quickly and efficiently screen large groups of children without the need to clean the device between scans.

Another valuable feature to have in a thermometer is a memory which holds a significant number of temperature readings. This is ideal for the average classroom, because it empowers a teacher or school nurse to easily capture the temperatures of a long line of students, while bypassing the need to manually record each reading.

Other features of non-contact infrared thermometers include a choice between Celsius and Fahrenheit, and alarm settings, to alert the user of any temperature outside the normal range. The flexibility to take temperature behind an ear lobe, when measuring forehead temperature is not feasible, is a definite bonus. A high-quality device should last through approximately 40,000 measurements. For schools or any venue where large groups of children are present, DeltaTrak’s Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer, Model 15007, can literally be a life saver.