UVC Mobile Disinfection Units Keep Conestoga Valley School District Open
In January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 (SARS-COV-2) a public health emergency of international concern. The transmission of COVID-19 is done through water droplets that can be transferred through person-to-person interaction, from one infected person to another. The virus can also spread when infected droplets land on objects and a person who touches those objects later touches their eyes, nose or mouth. The incubation period of the virus can be anywhere from one to 14 days, and the symptoms can vary from asymptomatic, mild to severe. Given the novelty of COVID-19, the entire world was working on preventing the transfer and decreasing the virus cases.
In March 2020, the United States began seeing a significant impact with an increase in cases and a promotion of business closures, school closures and limiting of social interactions. While many of the above have slowly begun to be reinstated, essentially, our ability to conduct business as usual, attend schools, restaurants, places of worship, and other public or social gatherings has been dramatically impacted. The overall goal is to ensure the safety of people and to limit the transmission of the virus.
The outbreak of COVID-19 brought to the forefront a technology that has been around for close to a century, which is Ultraviolet light, particularly UVC lighting. UVC lighting has a proven history as an effective technology in fighting against surface and air-borne viruses, bacteria and pathogens. While UVC cleaning and wavelengths have been used in medical facilities, water purification sites, food processing facilities, pharmaceutical production, and wastewater treatment settings for many years, the dramatic increase in COVID-19 and the additional cleaning measures to prevent transmission has made the need for more effective cleaning measures essential.
UVC lighting is a non-corrosive, chemical-free virus inactivation process, which leaves no residue on objects. UVC lighting provides an efficient and cost-effective solution to disinfecting large spaces. UVC portable units also make the technology more accessible than ever. Essential training that demonstrates the ease of use and the required personal protective equipment (PPE) ensures that UVC lighting units can be utilized by parties outside of medical, food, and water management facilities. Also provided with the UVC lighting units are dosimeter cards that visually confirm the area has the appropriate UVC lighting dose for optimum cleaning.
In early 2020, Nashville-based Accendo Lighting, sister company of Stones River Electric, launched two new portable UVC disinfection products to help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2020, Stones River Electric was contacted by a national electrical distributor to assist with UVC product specifications and bid documents for purchasing PPE products through 2021. The bid documents were directed to roughly 50 school districts and related facilities within the State of Pennsylvania. By August 2020, Stones River Electric received the first of two orders from Conestoga Valley School District (CVSD) for the 320W rolling mobile UVC units developed in part by Accendo Lighting.
Conestoga Valley School District is located in Lancaster County, Penn., and consists of four elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, district offices, and facility buildings. The Director of Operations for Conestoga cases reported throughout the county and local townships. Valley School District, Ken Johnson, purchased six 320W mobile units in 2020. Mr. Johnson explained that he bought the mobile UVC units as part of an overall strategy to disinfect the school classrooms, common areas, offices, and other large rooms, along with other disinfection measures. Using the UVC mobile units and other preventive cleaning measures, CVSD was able to document a lower percentage of cases from both the students and staff than the number of overall
Due to these preventative measures' success, CVSD has continuously run a five-day school week through the end of the year. The communication of UVC disinfection and all other measures' success was submitted to the students, parents, and staff through social media and written letters.
One of the keys to the success of CVSD's use of the UVC mobile unit has been the ability of facility staff to both transport and smoothly operate the units by anyone, regardless of experience level or possible language barriers. According to Mr. Johnson, the mobile units’ overall effectiveness and ease of use for his staff allow him to incorporate plans to purchase a few more mobile units later this year.