Reopening New Jersey: School district to test armband technology for students, staff amid coronavirus pandemic

BUTLER, New Jersey (WABC) -- One school district in New Jersey is employing a new technology to stay ahead of the coronavirus as schools prepare to reopen amid the pandemic.

The Butler School District is planning to require students to wear armbands with Bluetooth technology to provide daily temperature readings and other health information.

"I think it was an outside the box way to solve a problem that a lot of schools are struggling with," Superintendent Dr. Dan Johnson said. "The device is an armband, very similar to FitBit. It uses very low level technology that is able to give a temperature read of students while they're in the building."

In addition to hand washing stations, face masks and increased cleaning protocols, Dr. Johnson is planning to outfit all 1,100 students and the 240 faculty and staff members with the tech he says is currently being tested in hospital settings.

"They'll be nodes that will be put through the building, and they kind of go to that node and Wi-Fi will send a report to our nurse's office."

Students will only be monitored while on campus for temperatures above 99 degrees, and Dr. Johnson stressed that the district will strictly adhere to HIPAA and student privacy laws. The devices will not be ready by the first day of school but are expected after the school year begins.

"The good news is it didn't cost our district a thing," Dr. Johnson said. "The company, because they're seeing if they can use it in schools, said if you're willing to work with us, kind of be that test pilot for what we're doing, we'll supply that technology for free."

He's hoping he's found a helpful tool by possibly being the first district to try the technology.

"I guess I hadn't really thought about it to be honest with you," he said. "If it helps people feel better, if it helps people get through a difficult time in our society, i think that would be great."

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