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story.lead_photo.caption Using CARES Act funds, North Callaway R-1 will soon replace many security cameras throughout the district, adding additional cameras to fill blind spots. The district hopes the update will aid contact tracing efforts. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

WILLIAMSBURG — New security cameras will aid contact tracing efforts at North Callaway R-1 schools, the district hopes.

During Thursday's North Callaway Board of Education meeting, board members approved a $97,849 contract with Sound Solutions Digital Surveillance Group to replace some cameras and add others throughout the district's four schools, the T-Bird Learning Center and Central Office. Aside from an annual monitoring fee, the project's costs should be covered by state and county CARES Act funds, North Callaway business manager Kellie Chapin said.

That's because the new cameras will have an important role to play in tracking the spread of COVID-19 through the district. Security footage can be a useful tool for determining the close contacts of a student or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19.

"We've had some lagging in our cameras when we're contact tracing," Chapin said.

Many of the district's cameras are so old and outdated, it can be difficult to distinguish the number of people on the screen, much less their identities. A few that are still in good shape won't be replaced.

The district received bids from two companies: Sound Solutions and QNS. QNS's $139,683 bid included fewer cameras, a less generous warranty and a $5,000 annual licensing fee, compared to Sound Solution's $1,800 per year monitoring fee.

Sound Solutions already provides video surveillance in the district's new agriculture building, Chapin said.

"They don't actually monitor the images, but they monitor if (the cameras) are all working, if they're going to be any problems with them, 24/7," she said. "(The system) alerts them, and if they can remote in and fix them remotely, we get no charge. They're always on top of any problems that we have."

In addition to viewing security camera feeds in each building's main office, principals will be able to access them via an app on their phones.

Before submitting their bid, Sound Solutions met with the principals of each school to determine blind spots in the current system. Including both interior and exterior security cameras, Sound Solutions will be replacing or adding 45 cameras at North Callaway High School, 25 at the middle school, 27 at Hatton-McCredie Elementary, 24 at Williamsburg Elementary, 13 at TLC and three at Central Office.

"This is a good thing," said Sandy Lavy, North Callaway board of education member.

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