Here’s how tech can ensure safety in institutions and hostels in a post-COVID-19 world

It is imperative that educational institutes create a healthy and safe environment for students with the right tools and team once they open up,
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Among all the sectors affected by COVID-19, the impact on the education sector and the further repercussions of it on the broader population has been immense. Universities, schools, and teachers have embraced the online mode of education, but it hasn't been the same for them without the personal touch they bring to shaping young minds.

Students across the country have missed being in classes and building lifetime bonds that are key to a thriving social life and long term success. Parents have been forced to juggle work and their children’s increasing demands as they have stayed home for extended periods. Amidst all of this, there is an increasing worry that the quality of education has suffered the most through the pandemic.

Though the situation still remains uncertain, it’s important to start planning well in advance. So, how do we start reopening universities, schools, and colleges?

Over the last couple of months, we have seen medical and nursing colleges take the lead on restarting colleges. Their learnings tell us that having a solid plan, the right tools, and the right team are key to reopening educational institutes. This is important not just to create a healthy and safe environment for students, but also to avoid logistical nightmares associated with reopening campuses.

Technology will play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of the students as well as the staff. Educational institutions will have to relook at the way they execute their day to day manual tasks and replace them with technology-driven processes.

Padlocks, smart metres, face recognition, QR Code check-ins, and zero-touch check-ins are some of the new tech-enabled safety measures that can be implemented.

Tech-enabled workflow

First, it is important to think through the key processes you would want to establish. From registering students, to collecting fees, allotting hostel rooms, coordinating with parents — you will require a contactless, technology-enabled workflow that can all be performed remotely without the need for students and parents to step out of the safety that their home provides.

Contactless processes

Second, once students start coming back to your campus, you will continue to enforce contactless processes across student’s everyday interactions — student attendance, contactless check-ins, hostel management, mess management, and maintenance requests to name a few.

The need to blend advanced technologies like IoT integration, AI, and ML into your workflows will remain key in the post-pandemic world.

App-based communication

In this era of technological advancements where there is an app for almost everything, hostel management appears to be more than a decade behind in adopting new innovation. From redundant paperwork to time consuming manual processes, hostels are still following archaic methods to manage their day to day activities.

To create minimal face to face and physical interactions, institutions should opt for app-based communication models that will reduce exposure.

Robust approval processes for visitors

Similar to security apps for gated communities, institutions can use app-based entry and exit for visitors. Temperature checks, identification of visitors from containment zones, and mask checks can be integrated into an app to ensure better safety for their students.

By using technology, institutions can proactively monitor the health of their students and staff, take precautionary measures to prevent viral infections and implement robust mechanisms to manage infections when they occur.

It can be a great way to ensure real time health updates from students and to create a record of students who are currently impacted by COVID-19. This will be extremely crucial in order to avoid sudden closures of your campus.

Though the question of when to reopen is still uncertain, it’s important for institutions and their student accommodations to start thinking about the processes to be followed in the new normal.

Old school methodologies may not be the most ideal or safe for students as well as others stakeholders. An elaborate set of safety measures must be laid out with technology as an essential part in the whole process.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)