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North Merrick School District receives temperature-checking tech from Friends for Good Health

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After she was recruited to serve on North Merrick School District’s re-entry task force, which formed six weeks ago to develop potential school-reopening plans for September, Board of Education President Megan Ryan decided to use the many hats she wears to improve the health and safety of students and staff if schools reopen. 

She contacted her colleague Dr. Bobby Kalotee, the chairman of Friends for Good Health, a Hicksville-based organization, after she heard they had donated STAT temperature-screening kiosks to Nassau University Medical Center, where Kalotee serves as on the board. Ryan serves as general counsel for both organizations.

“I said, ‘we could use a few in North Merrick,’ and he didn’t hesitate,” she said of Kalottee. “He brought it to his board that day, and they passed a resolution that night.”

Thanks to the partnership, Friends for Good Health donated four kiosks to the district, which were unveiled to officials during a presentation at Harold D. Fayette School last Friday. There, Neeraj Sharma, a representative from STAT, explained how the tech works.

“This device is strictly a safety measure for the new normal,” he said. “In today’s time, wherever we go, we want to make sure we all are safe, and this device is one step forward towards that.”

The touchless machines use thermal infrared sensors and face recognition technology to perform efficient, accurate temperature readings instantly. The system does not require direct contact from either the user or the supervisor, aligning with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to maintain social distancing.

To get scanned, the user stands a few feet in front of the screen, which will then display his or her temperature reading. A color threshold at the bottom will then display if the user passed (green) or failed (red) the temperature check. The threshold will also display red if the user is not wearing a mask.

Each kiosk comes with a built-in four-gigabyte memory and an encrypted database that can be enabled to store data or notify school officials of abnormal temperature readings via email or text message. Superintendent Dr. Cynthia Seniuk said one kiosk would be placed within the security vestibules of each elementary school, with the fourth relegated to the district’s administrative office.

“If there is a discrepancy in a person’s temperature or if they’re not wearing a mask, we can stop them prior to entering the building,” Seniuk said, “that way we can provide more health safety for the children and staff.”

If the district moves to reopen in the fall, Seniuk said it would consider employing the database to assist with contact tracing. “You can’t educate children unless they feel safe and you provide a healthy environment,” she added, “and the Friends for Good Health is catapulting us to be able to do that.”