By JOE KALMAN, UV Resources
Schools and universities continue to face difficult decisions on how to best protect thousands of students and staff following the COVID-19 pandemic.
With that in mind, the Public Safety Academy of San Bernardino over the last two years researched multiple methods of safeguarding staff and cadets in grades 6-12, so that in-person learning could resume as quickly as possible.
As part of its COVID-19 Prevention Program, the public charter school implemented engineering controls to minimize disease-spread, including UV-C technology to “purify the air by inactivating viruses that travel through the HVAC airstream.”
Ultraviolet light, or UV-C, is a decades-old, powerful, scientifically validated technology that can neutralize airborne pathogens in less than a second. Based on their research, school administrators decided to employ a multi-layered ultraviolet germicidal approach with a variety of disinfection systems from UV Resources.
Both in-duct and upper-room UV meet EPA’s best practices of “enhance[d] air filtration and cleaning using the central HVAC system and in-room air-cleaning devices.”1 Also, the CDC’s K-12 Schools COVID-19 Mitigation Toolkit recommends UV-C “as a supplement to kill SARS-CoV-2” as part of its return to in-person-learning ventilation checklist.2
“We needed a proven infection-control-strategy that did not generate hazardous chemicals, VOCs, ozone or other dangerous byproducts,” recalls Steve Filson, the Academy's director of security and cadet services. “Germicidal UV-C lights continually disinfect the air in classrooms and public areas to create healthy, productive spaces for our students and staff.”
Acting across two school terms (2021-2023), the Academy deployed more than 60 UV-C disinfection fixtures in the upper air/room of communal school spaces such as the classrooms, library, gym, lunch and multipurpose rooms (Figure 1). In addition, UV-C fixtures were installed in duct and HVAC systems (rooftop package and thru-wall systems) that served classrooms. A typical germicidal UV-C in-duct system can disinfect a room’s total air volume multiple times each hour (Figure 2).
Like many elementary and high schools, Public Safety Academy utilized some of its federal ESSER pandemic recovery funds to help pay for the UV-C disinfection technology. Now, as these schools put the COVID-19 pandemic in their rearview mirrors, they will continue to benefit from UV-C technology by reducing overall disease transmission in their facilities.
Moreover, according to public health researchers, healthier air means fewer sick days, improved attendance and better academic performance.
1 White House. (2022, March). Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Launches Effort to Improve Ventilation and Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 in Buildings. Retrieved from whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/03/17/fact-sheet-biden-administration-launches-effort-to-improve-ventilation-and-reduce-the-spread-of-covid-19-in-buildings/
2 CDC. K-12 Schools COVID-19 Mitigation Toolkit. Checklist #4. Retrieved from: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/FINAL-0321420_B_K-12_Mitigation_Toolkit508.pdf