Indian Schools screen kids for flu with sensors

Published 26 August 2009

Indian schools deploy heat sensors to check the temperature of kids as they walk into class; if the temperature is above 100 degree Fahrenheit, parents are informed immediately

Prevention is better than cure. Bangalore, India, schools are sparing no efforts to make sure their children do not fall victim to Influenza A (H1N1). They are even arming themselves with temperature measuring sensors to check children every day.

Mostly used at airports, these sensors record body temperature within a few seconds after they are placed on the forehead. Schools screen every child for flu symptoms before allowing them into class. If the temperature is above 100 degree Fahrenheit, parents are informed immediately. In some schools, children with flu symptoms are kept in isolation before being sent home. Parents are also advised that the child be given sufficient rest and sent to school only after complete recovery.

Shruthi Balakrishna writes that National Public School (NPS) is one school deploying these sensors. With more than 9,000 students on its rolls, the school decided not to take any chances as far as its students’ health was concerned. “Every morning, when the child comes to school we check the body temperature using the sensor. If the temperature is above normal, we inform parents,” said K. P. Gopalkrishna, chairman, NPS Group of Institutions.

He was impressed by the instruments used at airports and decided to use them in his schools. “We purchased 22 instruments and gave them to all the schools in our group,” he said.

He added that things are under control as parents are cooperative and do not send the child to school if she has cold and cough. Screening will continue till it’s clear that the flu crisis is over.

In Delhi Public School (DPS), body temperature is checked using a thermometer near the ear. “All one has to do is keep the thermometer close to the ear and click on the reading button. There is absolutely no contact with the body,” said Mansoor Ali Khan, member of DPS board of management.

The school, which has been using them for the past ten days, claims the instruments are accurate. “Parents have been cooperative. Even if there is a slight increase in the child’s temperature, they don’t send her to school,” he said.

Some schools are planning to buy these instruments. Nitya Ramaswami, head, child development and academics, Zee Learn, said she plans to screen children’s temperature using ear thermometers. “Currently, we just check temperature without using any instrument. And we plan to use the instrument now,” she said.