Funding School Bus Technology for Student, Driver Health

A webinar highlighted the importance of using proven technology for cleaning school buses and how counties can access federal funds to pay for them.

Ken Hedgecock, United Safety’s national sales director, noted that COVID-19 has become an important part of school truck considerations when getting the job done. Focusing on the health of students makes it possible to restore a level of trust in parents, drivers, school administrators and the entire community, he explained on 25 May.

Hedgecock said there has always been a need to make sure the air and surfaces are safe on a school bus. COVID-19 has brought this to the fore, and the threat is likely to persist into the fall and school year of 2021-2022, he predicted.

Meanwhile, Kaitlynne Monaghan, business development manager for the Child Check-Mate System, was reviewing federal funding sources that can help districts purchase cleaning technology.

The funds of the primary and secondary school emergency aid (ESSER), which are part of the COVID-19 stimulus packages of the federal government, focus specifically on the formation of the K-12. The Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act provides funding for bus and coach companies. Specific funding in the American Rescue Plan is also allocated for education and learning loss. Together, these programs provide a total of $ 189.5 billion in student education and support.

The federal government provides funding packages that are awarded to the state education agency (SEA), then to the local education agencies (LEA) and finally to the school districts. A plan for using the funds must be presented at each step.

Monaghan advised districts to work with their LEAs to determine what funding is available to them and what deadlines apply. She said to start planning what the funds will be used for. One aspect for which funding can be sought is the impact of COVID-19 on school traffic, such as: The website is a helpful resource for bus operators to determine their eligibility and permitted use of CERTS Act funds, she added.

“You can use the funds to create a safer environment for children not just in schools but on the way to school, which I believe was grossly overlooked during the pandemic,” she said.

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United Safety, a self-proclaimed industry leader in safety-related products, has a global reach and already offers the Child Check Mate child reminder system and the Fogmaker fire extinguishing system for school buses. It has now introduced two technologies to fight COVID-19: Active Air Purification and Aegis.

Jeff Krueger, United Safety’s vice president of field operations, stated that after the pandemic broke out, United Safety began researching technologies that could protect children from bacteria and viruses. The focus was on the implementation of proven technology, the reduction of manual cleaning effort and the cost-effective creation of a dynamic antimicrobial environment in school buses.

The company wanted to offer a cost-effective solution that dynamically cleans the air while the students sit on the buses, he said.

Active Air from United Safety uses PHI-Cell technology, which contains UV light and ions, to continuously disinfect the air and surfaces in the school bus. It is safe for the driver and student passengers to be around, noted Krueger. He said this was a more complete and safer solution than just using UV light, an ionizer, or a smoke machine.

Third-party tests showed that the PHI cell technology reduced the SARS-CoV-2 virus on contact by 99 percent in a large room. Similar results were obtained in a “Sneeze Simulation Machine,” added Krueger.

Krueger explained that when installed on a school bus, Active Air does not need to be connected to the vehicle’s HVAC system. In addition to fighting COVID-19, the quiet and effective system also reduces mold, mildew and bacteria. It can also be used in spaces like a driver lounge, added Hedgecock.

Hedgecock said the EPA registered Aegis surface protection is also a proven solution for transportation and medical applications. The lysis technology used creates a surface of microscopic spines that microbes cannot adhere to. When used annually, it provides around-the-clock protection for school bus surfaces. It provides protection with no adverse effects on students or equipment on the bus. It’s recommended for seats, windows, steering wheels, handrails, and more – anything a driver or passenger could come into contact with.

Krueger added that the security technology gives students, parents and transport staff confidence – not just during COVID-19 but in applications like flu season as well.

Watch the webinar again on demand.

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