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Facial recognition temperature kiosks donated to two high schools to screen for COVID-19 at sporting events

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Gregg Baczuk, the Skyline Athletic Director, sitting in front of a donated facial recognition temperature kiosk | Courtesy of Gregg Baczuk

IDAHO FALLS — Walking into a sporting event in Idaho Falls School District 91 might feel a bit like a science fiction movie now.

During events, one of the first things patrons will notice is a futuristic-looking kiosk that automatically detects a person’s temperatures, and determines whether a patron is wearing a mask. The kiosks were donated by Evo Automation CEO Chet Taylor to the Idaho Falls and Skyline high schools in order to allow them to move forward with sporting events while still complying with COVID-19 health restrictions.

Taylor, who also coaches football in the district, made his donation as part of the “CEO Pay it Forward” program after he was challenged by Idahoan CEO Drew Facer.

“I wanted our kids to play it safe and come to school safe,” Taylor told EastIdahoNews.com.

RELATED: Local business leaders help community with CEO Pay it Forward Challenge

Skyline Athletic Director Gregg Baczuk explained COVID-19 has made sporting events difficult to hold, and it was especially challenging last year when most of the events were canceled completely due to the virus.

“Spring was awful,” he said. “Cancelling those sports seasons for those seniors and for the rest of those kids was absolutely awful.”

Baczuk said a lot of work has gone into making the school experience better for students and patrons this year — both in sports and academics. One of the goals behind the kiosk is helping students feel more at ease with the temperature taking process. Instead of stopping everyone to take their temperature individually, the kiosks scan individuals as they pass in front of it at high speed.

Players and fans can pass in front of the machine, where a video camera will show their image, and will immediately display their temperature and announce whether or not they are safe to enter. They can also detect if you are wearing a mask, and will politely ask you to put one on if it sees you don’t have it.

The main part of the kiosk can be taken out to be used in multiple places. While the donation was specifically for sporting events, they could be used in the school as well.

“This is a really easy way to remind them to wear their mask or to help them understand that safety is a concern to us,” Baczuk added.

Skyline was able to use their kiosk on Sept. 1 for games where they were expecting people from Blackfoot, Madison, and Rigby. The extra precaution, along with the other safety measures taken, helped ensure safety even with residents traveling from other areas. Unlike those areas, Bonneville County is under a mandatory mask order due to the number of COVID-19 cases in the county. For more information about the Eastern Idaho Public Health COVID-19 Regional Response Plan click here.

Taylor told East Idaho News helping the schools was important to him because he has five daughters in the district, and he knows their time in school is important.

“All of my kids are at a critical age where they need to be in the classroom,” he said. “We just wanted to mitigate risk but get people back to somewhat normalcy.”

To continue the Pay it Forward program, Taylor nominated two CEO’s from the area.

The first one was Doug Swanson from Bill’s Bike and Run and Swanson’s All American Sports. Taylor also nominated Josh Olsen and his two brothers from Bingham Mechanical Inc.

“They are phenomenal men, and I think they have the means to do something pretty cool,” Taylor added.

The opportunity to help students experience high school in a realistic and safe way was one that both Taylor and Baczuk were grateful for.

“I appreciate the support from Gregg Baczuk and the new principals and staff here at Skyline, and Pat Loyd and the new principal and staff at IF for giving us the opportunity to mitigate risk for the kids and bring this technology to the schools,” Taylor said.

“(Taylor) and other community leaders like him have really gone to bat for our kids,” Baczuk added. “I just can’t say enough how much we appreciate guys like him.”

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