After the COVID Pandemic forced a move to distance and hybrid learning over the last year and a half, Vista Heritage Global Academy in Santa Ana, California is welcoming students back with a full reopening for the 2021-2022 school year.
Not only will students return to a full-time schedule, the students, teachers, and staff will also return to a brand-new school building that houses state-of-the-art classrooms, offices, cafeteria, an innovation lab and much more.
Vista Heritage’s Principal Dr. Collin Felch knows that while there is much to be excited about, there is also an ongoing need to focus on student well-being as the COVID pandemic continues.
In his principal’s message for the 2021-22 school year, he introduced the motto “ALL Means ALL’ — in part, this expresses his promise to deliver to every student a first-class educational experience, in an environment that is comfortable and protected.
Better Bus Rides for Students
There are many areas to consider when it comes to student well-being, especially in the time of COVID. Fortunately for Vista Heritage, in addition to best-in-class COVID protocols, a new building brings a new ventilation system as well which provides a great foundation for safer environments. But Dr. Felch saw an opportunity to help protect the environments that kids interact with before they even step into the school by installing virus and bacteria-killing antimicrobial lights on their buses. These lights are UV-free so they can be on and working continuously without restriction killing microbes even with kids present.
“Implementing new antimicrobial lighting in our buses takes full advantage of state-of-the-art technology available to us to protect our students and staff,” Dr. Felch said. “In education, safety always comes first, and this unique approach to creating cleaner spaces is another critical step to ensuring our children are learning and thriving in a cleaner environment at Vista Heritage.”
Vista Heritage is the first primary school in California to embed Vyv’s groundbreaking antimicrobial technology inside its school buses, though they have been installed in buses in other states, such as in the 325-bus fleet in the Denver Public Schools — an investment made possible through CARES act dollars.
Investing in Schools Through the Cares Act
In 2020 and 2021, Congress passed three stimulus bills that provided nearly $190.5 billion to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. The Elementary and Secondary Relief Fund provides district leaders with broad authority over both the targeting of funds to specific schools and the use of funds more broadly. The CARES Act includes a long list of allowable activities, including any activities authorized under a range of existing federal education laws, as well as a long list of activities broadly related to coronavirus.
Aktonit, a local health, wellness and sustainability company, introduced Code 3’s interior compartment light with Vyv antimicrobial LEDs to the Orange County School Board. Code 3’s antimicrobial lighting is also used in emergency vehicles and is currently installed throughout Denver Public School’s fleet ofschool buses. After hearing about the effectiveness of the lights, this information was passed on to Dr. Felch, who immediately saw the value in creating a cleaner environment within the school’s buses.
“Investing in Vyv antimicrobial lighting in our buses is a forward-thinking application of CARES funding to protect the spaces where our children learn.” Dr. Felch added. “As we head toward the return of in-person learning, adding these antimicrobial lights is another proactive step we can take to protect these environments.”
An Alternative to Dangerous UV Light
Some schools have considered using CARES money to purchase UV light to disinfect school environments, but UV is dangerous to use around people, so it requires complex controls to ensure that they don’t turn on when people are present, as in the unfortunate case of a UV light malfunction in the Cobb County School district in Georgia. In this case, the system, which required motion detectors, timing hardware, and other safety protocols, failed. The school district said a failure at Argyle Elementary resulted in lights turning on when an adult was in the room, and lights flickered all over the school as if in an attempt to turn on all the lights school wide.
Vyv is the health-tech industry leader that pioneered UV-free antimicrobial LED technology, which has been proven effective against viruses, bacteria, mold, fungi, and yeast, according to more than a decade of research, studies and use in diverse settings such as hospitals, airplanes, subways, offices, manufacturing plants, and more. Vyv’s visible light technology applies light in the 405-nanometer wavelength (outside the UV light spectrum). The lights are designed to meet and exceed international standards for continuous and unrestricted use 24/7 around people, pets, and plants.
Colleen Costello, Vyv’s co-founder and CEO, is proud to partner with Dr. Felch, Vista Heritage and Orange County, she said, “in their commitment to offer continuous environmental protection for their students’ well-being, and to bring some more comfort for parents and staff as our world faces very real challenges against this current pandemic.”
As kids go back to school, antimicrobial light is now taking its place as an integral component to creating much cleaner spaces for our kids and all those who care for them.