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How Teachers Are Risking Children’s Lives With Thermo Guns


With Schools resumption being a reality now, it’s not in doubt, that’s comes with its own share of risks. With mandatory wearing of masks, regular hand washing and mandatory temperature screening being measures put by government to curb spread of Covid-19 amid school reopening.

With contact between people being discouraged, the only option teachers have is to use non contact thermometers, yes the pistol like infrared digital thermometer ‘guns’.

Thermometer gun.

The excitement that comes with handling it is making teachers to forget that, infrared thermometers are very notorious regarding to giving inaccurate readings. Some times back, doctors had warned on use of these thermo guns.

Photo/Bristol Herald Courier

To Mr James, a guard at a popular high school in Nairobi, these ‘guns’ are inaccurate and unreliable. “These things( thermometers) keep giving unreliable data, sometimes it reads 37.5 and taking another test it reads 34.9″ he told KenyanVoice. To explain this better, a body with temperature less than 35,  could be suffering from a condition known as hypothermia , a fatal condition which could have led to death.

This puts the lives of our children and teachers at a great risk.

This could be due to use of wrong infrared thermometer, or inability to handle it. For full guide on how to use an infrared non contact thermometer, considered reading , Full Guide & Tips: How to Use An Infrared Thermometer

But if they are inaccurate and unreliable, why do we still use them in schools?

Before we disclose why they are being used despite technically not able to detect Covid-19, it’s important to understand how they work.

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Body contains molecules that are in constant motion, as they collide, they emit infrared radiation. The thermometer has a lens that focus that infrared radiation to a sensor called thermocouple. The sensor converts that radiation into electricity. Then those signals are converted into digital signals that are displayed on a screen.

School going children in Nairobi. Photo/EveryChild

If they can mislead, why is government risking the lives of our children then? This is Why.

In psychology, it is referred to as Security Theater. This refers to things that are done to make people feel secure without any demonstrate benefit provided. Like, most masks being worn by students, just help in reducing anxiety, but empirically and realistically talking they don’t reduce their risk of getting Covid-19.
Temperature screening and masks in schools could actually cause more harm than good because they provide false sense of security. But who knows, it is too early to tell if they might help anyway.