Pandemic Policy Turned Schools Into Surveillance States

The open campus was becoming a distant memory even before the pandemic. Many schools became panopticons because of exaggerated security concerns and the falling cost technology. ID tags Students who are being trackedCameras viewed their behaviour and software tracked their internet activity. COVID-19 came along and safety was a top priority. It left a legacy of Big brotherism that will be carried on in public schools even after the virus had passed.

Education publication was launched in December 2020 amid pandemic panic. The 74 BewareAs education leaders try to minimize the impact of the ongoing disruptions on student learning, they have created a massive ecosystem of school-safety products.

Privacy advocates have raised serious concerns about student tracking devices, surveillance cameras, and contact-tracing apps for cell phones, and accused them of exposing youth to excessive surveillance. However, school officials and executives who have bought these products claim they will stay.

Like in many other places, pandemic concerns overtook civil libertarian worries about privacy and was replaced by public health arguments which prioritized the prevention of the spread disease. Businesses that were selling surveillance products during normal times faced stiff competition and rushed to sell their products.

Volan offers private geo-fencing and location tracking that is unique to schools and offices across the country. [a]”A precise, fast and efficient contact tracing system combined with emergency response capabilities” Volan Technology sells, amongst other things, tracking badges in June 2020. 

Volan praises artificial intelligence as a way to facilitate contact trace and enforce social-distancing laws. It’s also a feature found in newer versions of surveillance cameras. These can monitor corridors, classrooms and even automatically identify the objects they are looking at.

“Motorola Solutions—whose security and communications systems are already installed in thousands of schools around the country—has developed artificial intelligence compatible with its existing cameras to recognize when an individual isn’t wearing a mask,” The Wall Street Journal reportedIn August 2020. 

Contact-tracing has become a popular tool for camera sellers. New way to market facial recognition productsThat would, theoretically, identify individuals believed to be exposed to COVID-19. The merits of facial recognition are well-known.Concerns about security breach, intrusion and misidentification. Public-health priorities overtook civil liberty arguments, but they didn’t actually address them. Repurposing security technology from the past to combat pandemic concerns was a great opportunity.

The US market for security equipment was valued at $716 million by 2020. As perSecurity Industry Association. The Security Industry Association estimates that this includes the revenues from video surveillance, access control, and intrusion alarm equipment sales. This is measured at factory gates prices. K-12 education is expected to represent approximately 56 percent of 2020’s total market, with an opportunity for equipment revenues of $405 millions.

However, repurposed surveillance technologies are not a panacea. It is not surprising that tools, which had been proven infallible, showed similar flaws when used for public health.

“In Fulton County [Georgia]”School officials decided to disarm the face-mask detection system in cafeterias, as it was activated by students eating lunch.” The Guardian reportedThis week. It also identified students who lowered their masks briefly in order to drink water. In suburban Houston…when white students wore light-colored masks, for example, the face detection sounded alarms. Students who rode their bikes to school were also flagged by the cameras.

All of the surveillance technology is still in use, even though pandemic fears are decreasing across the nation. COVID-19 will not affect the storage of expensive cameras and badges. Vendors have already proven that they can reprogram software to repurpose technology in order to address immediate concerns once. Why wouldn’t it happen again? Fulton officials hope “to equip Fulton county schools with AI enabled cameras to identify students who have brought guns to school.” The Guardian adds.

Of course, the federal government can subsidize school purchases of surveillance devices with large sums of money. It is therefore possible to turn supposed learning environments in entry-level police forces.

There are many federal grants programs that can be used to assist schools in meeting their security requirements. As perTo Security magazine. These programs include the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Parents and students must resist the school panopticon. Encode JusticeThis youth-driven organization questions artificial intelligence’s use in various contexts including school surveillance. Dearborn parents, Michigan They are fighting backSchools officials are opposed to surveillance plans, raising concerns that suspicion and monitoring have become normalized. Wisconsin families Hidden cameras – suedIn their high schools. Former Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo The use of facial recognition cannot be prohibitedIn the schools of the state, after the New York Civil Liberties Union brought officials to court.

Odis Johnson Jr. is the executive director at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Safe and Healthy Schools. WDET. “All of these things relate to the feelings of school connection, belongingness, and trust.”

The best way to keep children safe from being monitored is for families to be able to select the right education environment. These environments may include preferred learning plans, teaching methods, or curricula. However, students should be able to choose the environment that best suits their needs. Parents and students can also have access to privacy and freedom if they so desire. Individuals who don’t like being tagged or monitored should have the same freedom to choose institutions that accommodate their needs as families who desire their children to succeed beyond what Big Brother can see.