Thermal camera donated to Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club to screen kids for fever

JACKSONVILLE, Arkansas — The Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club is receiving a thermal camera that will be put in place to help detect if a child has a temperature when they walk in the door.

“This just gives us that sense of awareness and being proactive,” CEO Laconda Watson said.

The Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club has not been in session since March 13 and Watson thinks it could be another month before kids will be allowed back in the building. 

She is aiming for a June 15 opening date.

“We’re not rushing this at all, we’re going to make sure that we do this right,” she said.

But when kids do eventually go back, their temperatures will be taken without any contact through a thermal camera.

“You walk into the building based on where it is positioned, and it will scan you based on your eyes,” Watson said.

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The camera has facial recognition and will send an alert to Watson if someone has a fever.

“If you do have an elevated temperature, we will have an isolated area that we will have our children in until their caregiver can come and pick them up,” she said.

The Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club will be the first organization in the state to have it.

“I’m excited to get that up and running for them. The faster we can get that in there, the faster and safer they’ll be to reopen,” Watson said.

Tarek Shedadeh works for Curtis Stout, the company donating the camera to the club. A thermal camera has been set up in their office for four weeks.

“Let me tell you, I feel very safe walking into our office every day because it measures everybody’s body temperature within plus or minus point three degrees,” he said.

Shedadeh was the one who reached out to Watson about this equipment. He believes this will help the club get a little more back to normal.

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“Even after COVID-19, this is going to be a permanent fixture for them, so the next virus or flu epidemic, they’re going to be ahead of the game,” he said.

“I think back February, we had a situation where we had to close for a few days because of that flu, and I think if I had this camera in place, we may have been able to be more proactive,” Watson said.

Watson said this donation will change the way the club operates from here on out.

“It just adds that layer of protection and we want our families to feel secure with coming back to the club,” she said.