Schools are tasked with adhering to COVID-19 protocols, and this means screenings—adding sensitive student and staff health data to the mix

There’s no point mincing words: School districts and administrators have had a heck of a year. Not only have you been under immense pressure from parents and state officials to reopen schools safely, but your teachers are also understandably concerned about virus transmission. What’s more, your plans keep changing and you’re being forced to adapt.

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It’s an uphill battle, and there’s no doubt you’re doing your best. In all the chaos, you’re now responsible for taking temperatures and doing daily COVID-19 screenings, but you may not have had enough time to research screening devices and do sufficient due diligence before welcoming students back through your doors. Unfortunately, making a purchase like this can open you up to risk. Here’s why, and how to mitigate these risks moving forward.

Untested tech, unproven vendors

COVID-19 took the world by surprise, and people have taken a waterfall of reactionary measures ever since. Consumers have bought household goods out of panic, and schools have bought screening devices in much the same way – because they needed to.

There’s no point mincing words: School districts and administrators have had a heck of a year. Not only have you been under immense pressure from parents and state officials to reopen schools safely, but your teachers are also understandably concerned about virus transmission. What’s more, your plans keep changing and you’re being forced to adapt.

It’s an uphill battle, and there’s no doubt you’re doing your best. In all the chaos, you’re now responsible for taking temperatures and doing daily COVID-19 screenings, but you may not have had enough time to research screening devices and do sufficient due diligence before welcoming students back through your doors. Unfortunately, making a purchase like this can open you up to risk. Here’s why, and how to mitigate these risks moving forward.

Untested tech, unproven vendors

COVID-19 took the world by surprise, and people have taken a waterfall of reactionary measures ever since. Consumers have bought household goods out of panic, and schools have bought screening devices in much the same way – because they needed to. You need to reopen your doors, so you need to perform health checks, as well as COVID-19 testing and tracking. It’s understandable that you may have either purchased a device for your school or been given one to install from your district without first undergoing a complete risk assessment.

But these screening devices are largely unproven. Many of them have emerged very recently from vendors that are neither widely known nor trusted. Furthermore, many of them use facial recognition so the technology can connect the dots between the temperatures they’ve taken and whose temperature it is. Do you know how, where, or if that data then gets stored? Whether you have a handheld screening device that looks like a modified cell phone or one that looks like a tablet, you need to understand the associated risks and configure the technology securely.

You’re now handling health data

You’ve always had to manage and protect student data, but as soon as you pull the trigger on a temperature scanner, you’re dealing with sensitive health information. Some people dismiss temperature data as “just a temperature,” but the reality is that this is health data – and it needs to be treated differently than general student records. When you’re handling health data, the complexity and sensitivity is increased significantly.

A lot of COVID-19 testing and tracking devices have a server component to them, so the device sends data to a centralized server system where it’s captured and used for reporting. If someone scans hot, a notification may go out. That notification is then sharing health data. Additionally, many technologies are working to help record contact tracing. This, of course, is another layer of sensitive data, this time about the comings and goings of individuals.

So, consider where the personal information captured by these devices goes. Is it being used by the vendor for purposes aside from COVID-19 testing and tracking? Odds are good that it is (or eventually will be). Also, is it part of your network? If so, there’s a possibility that a cybercriminal could access the network – and all the data. There has been an increase in attacks on COVID-19 testing centers, vaccine development facilities, etc. so it’s not a stretch to imagine this type of data being a target within your own walls.

Assess risk & make plans

If your data, school, or district does get compromised and your screening technology is taken offline, what’s your backup plan? Do you have one? If not, take the time to think through all possible outcomes and what your next moves will be. Whether it’s because of cybercriminals or simply because the technology fails (as all tech does eventually), having contingency processes in place will increase your speed of response and level of security.
source: Read More, eSchool News

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