Monday was the first-day Hongwanji Mission School in Nuuanu used thermal scanners on its students to screen for fever, the head of school said it is just one way they are adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Randall, the Head of School at Hongwanji Mission School, said it will only take two seconds for the machines to do their work. Staff, parents and students will get their body temperature screened to check for COVID-19 symptoms.

Randall said, “Parents were notified that we will be using this tool over the next several days, and it shouldn’t really have much of an impact, the scanner works really fast, so it’s really just step in front of it and move on.”

He said hand-held thermometers will still be used as a secondary screening for those flagged by the scanner.

Brooke Hasegawa is the Vice President at Progressive Communications, the company is the vendor of the thermal scanners manufactured by FLIR Systems.

The product by FLIR is approved by the FDA and the federal agency published its set of guidelines for thermal imaging systems.

“We are just looking for elevated screen temperature across individuals who may be eligible for secondary screening,” Hasegawa said. “No photographs, what the user sees right in front of the device is a thermal picture, they see exactly what our administrators see.”

Hasegawa said the device does not use facial recognition technology.

The unit costs between $7,000 to $12,000, and Hasegawa said it is currently in use at the convention center and the State Capital.

Hasegawa said, “It allows both the individuals being screened and the Hawaii National Guard to keep a little bit of distance from one another and not get in front of 500 individuals on the daily basis.”

Randall said temperature checks are just one of the safety measures at the school. Teachers and students will wear face coverings at all times and they will reduce intermingling of students, even by assigning bathrooms to certain classroom groups.

Randall said, “Our plan for the Fall is to really have classroom cohorts, that mitigates cross-contamination between classrooms and students and this gives us a chance to very rapidly and very easily screen every person that walks on campus.”

Unlike most schools where students move between classes for different subjects, students at Hongwanji Mission School will remain in the same classroom and teachers will be doing the rotating.