COVID Causes Wireless Technology Intrusion In Ohio Classrooms

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The pandemic of Covid-19 has created unusual circumstances regarding education in the U.S. Social distancing has become the norm, and the education system is looking for solutions for the upcoming school year. Although distance learning is a possibility, some schools are focusing on using new surveillance technology to avoid the spread of Covid-19. In New Albany, Ohio, five schools plan to test the technology this fall using beacons to send alerts via Bluetooth in case of emergencies and to track student interactions.

The founder of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, Albert Fox Cahn said, “It’s been one of the most disturbing parts of this.” Mr. Cahn mentioned, the surveillance industry is exploring ways to get in the classroom with ideas beginning with temperature tracking infrared cameras, contact tracing apps to wireless beacons, and smart cameras. The American Federation of Teachers prepared guidelines for the reopening of schools and universities and included a warning of vendors using this opportunity to increase data mining.

The Superintendent of New Albany-Plains Schools, Michael Sawyers stated, “We are very much interested in the automated tracking of students.” Mr. Sawyers wants to ensure students are following social distancing protocols and hopes to identify students who may be carrying the virus. Superintendent Brian Betze, of Robbinsville, New Jersey stated, “We’re always trying to make schools safer for kids, and I believe technology is the best way to do that.” Mr. Betze confirmed he is willing to use the surveillance services from Volan systems as it was utilized at his previous school. Although Mr. Betze agrees with the implementation of the technology, he mentioned, “until there’s a vaccine, or a treatment, I’m not sure it’s safe to go back.”

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