Going Back to School: Breathe Easy

By NoviSphere™ Staff

Multitasking is not a new concept to parents or guardians of school-aged kids. Integrating work and home responsibilities with school and extracurricular pursuits has always been a balancing act. But when the COVID-19 pandemic made homeschooling a mandate, parent multitasking was pushed to previously unimagined levels. In many states, students have now been distance-learning for nearly a year, remotely attending not only school, but also activities from music lessons to scout meetings, creating social and emotional challenges for children and their families.

After nearly a year of virtual schooling, the question on everyone’s mind is: What is going to make it safe to reopen schools and keep them open?

Vaccines are now rolling out, and while educators await their turn to receive them, it’s vital to look at the bigger picture. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidelines for reopening schools in an effort to restore some normalcy to our daily lives. The good news is that in-person schooling has not been linked to substantial transmission within communities. The science indicates that transmission rates inside schools are no higher when mitigation steps are implemented.

However, the science also shows that coronaviruses are spread not only through contact with infected surfaces but also via aerosol droplets containing microscopic particles, which linger in the air. This was confirmed via multiple studies, including work done at the University of Minnesota (see our prior post here). Yet, as the New York Times noted on Feb. 17, “It was only in July that the World Health Organization conceded that the virus can linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, after 239 experts publicly called on the organization to do so.”

A Feb. 18 Washington Post article concurred: “…Many experts say good ventilation is key to controlling a virus known to be airborne. The CDC guidance underplays the importance of ventilation while overemphasizing cleaning in schools, even though surface transmission is no longer thought to significantly contribute to spread, two researchers argued in a recent Washington Post column. ‘Shared air is the problem, not shared surfaces,’ wrote Joseph G. Allen of Harvard University and Helen Jenkins of Boston University.”

And, according to a tweet by Richard Corsi, Portland State University’s dean of engineering and computer science, an expert on indoor air quality (as cited Feb. 17 in Education Week), “Ventilation is given lip service with little guidance. Incredibly disappointing. The lack of understanding of ventilation or its importance (or perhaps just disregard) is wholly obvious.”

The consensus: preventing the spread of infectious airborne pathogens that cause coronaviruses and other diseases is vital to safe occupation of schoolground buildings. This is what our NoviSphere™ PE 254 pathogen eradicator was specifically developed to achieve. Room air is pulled in and cycled through the system, using our proprietary baffling technology to expose pathogens to germicidal UV-C light for the optimal length of time, so that they are completely inactivated – the U of M testing confirmed that the PE 254 kills 99.99% of germs, bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus.

There is no danger of exposure to students or staff, as the UV-C arrays are fully contained within the unit, which can be installed into an HVAC system, hung on a wall or ceiling, or mounted to a cart and moved from room to room. This flexibility makes the NoviSphere PE 254 suitable for use in all occupied indoor school environments, from classrooms and libraries to gyms and cafeterias. And, as it operates continuously to change room air multiple times per hour, the system delivers a constant supply of clean, virus-free breathable air.

At NoviSphere, we believe in the power of our technology to improve the safety and quality of life. As parents ourselves, we understand the pressure that parents and schools are under to help kids continue to learn and grow in the midst of this unprecedented situation. And we look forward to helping education go “back to normal” as soon as possible.