Fayette County public schools will soon be outfitted with thermal imaging, facial recognition cameras which will detect students and others with fevers entering the school.
The Fayette County Board of Education on Aug. 10 approved the purchase of up to 75 cameras, at an installed price of $7,000 per unit, for a maximum total of $525,000.
The purchase will be made using ESPLOST (education special purpose local option sales tax) safety and security funds.
Superintendent Jody Barrow said the cameras are the last piece of the puzzle for re-opening schools.
Noting that schools will continue to depend on parents to take the temperatures of students before coming to school, Barrow said the cameras will capture the face, including the eyes and forehead, so there will be no problem with people wearing masks when entering the building. The cameras will also be installed at bus loop locations.
Barrow noted that the cameras will not serve as a diagnostic tool.
Once the camera identifies the individual as having a fever, the person will report to the school nurse for a diagnostic evaluation to determine the precise temperature.
Commenting on the specifics of the cameras, Assistant Superintendent Mike Sanders said the school system has been vetting cameras systems since April.
The Hikvision thermal cameras will integrate with the current camera system, and includes a range of 8.2 feet to 23 feet, Sanders said, adding that the thermal imaging operates with an accuracy of .5 degrees.
Barrow said the thermal imaging cameras can be in place soon, likely within the next couple of weeks, adding that they present long-term solution.
Barrow said there is a possibility that federal funds might be available for the purchase.