Rome City Schools to require face masks, adds thermal imaging for students, staff

FLOYD COUNTY, Ga. — When students return to school in Rome, they will have to wear face masks but that's not all. They'll also have to walk through thermal imaging technology for temperature checks.

Rome City Schools leaders say this is all in the name of safety.

“We want to make them feel as comfortable as possible that school is still going on as normal, we just have some new rules and guidelines that we have to go by,” said Main Elementary School Principal Dr. LaRoyce Sublett.

Doors open for students on Aug. 13.

“Students are going to learn best in a safe environment,” said Director of Safety Jason Self.

Self said the thermal imaging machines are in every Rome school and will allow school leaders to check temperatures for several students quickly. If a student is shown to have a temperature, that student, teacher and parent are notified.

“We are very focused on COVID-19,” said Rome City Superintendent Louis Byars.

Byars said his teachers and staff are looking forward to being face-to-face with their students all year, but they are ready for anything.

“Train them all on virtual, because we all know at some point we may have to go 100 percent virtual,” Byars said.

Byars made the decision to make masks mandatory this year. Every student will get a mask for free. He said it's to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent other issues too.

“I had students thank me because they don’t want to be singled out, they don’t want to be looked at as different or peer pressure, so by making it a requirement it relieves all of that,” Byars said.

The district says the 20 to 25 percent of students have opted to start school virtually and the cost of thermal imaging is about $9,000 per camera. The district is using CARES money to pay for the equipment.