Back to School: Local school districts invest hundreds of thousands into new sanitization technology

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY — With the first day of school for some just under two weeks away, local districts are installing and testing new sanitization technology to keep students healthy for their return.

West Liberty-Salem Local Schools in Champaign County has invested about $500,000 toward getting ready for the beginning of the new school year, according to Superintendent Kraig Hissong.

The district put in a new cold-plasma, whole-building air purification system in June. The new system was in the works before the COVID pandemic, but it will definitely be put to the test now.

Hissong said the system is about 98 percent effective and can also be used to rid the school building’s air of other diseases like E. coli and Legionnaire’s Disease.

“It pulls the hydrogen out,” Hissong said. “When you pull the hydrogen out, it takes the pathogens with it and effectively kills them.”

The district will also continue to implement its use of vital-oxide misters in its cleaning procedures.

The solution removes 100 percent of microbials from commonly touched surfaces in the building, and the misters will be used up to seven times a day.

WL-S has also built about 100 hand sanitizing stations for around the building and outside on the playground as well as put up sneeze guards in office spaces.

The district has also put up money for sprayers for the buses and classrooms – for in between routes and classes.

Hissong said part of the $500,000 also takes into account an anticipated staffing need like substitute teachers.

Just up Ohio 68, the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center is also launching its share of new sanitization technology.

Superintendent Dr. Rick Smith said the school bought two thermal imaging temperature cameras that will scan each student’s temperature as they walk in the door for school and when they head to lunch.

The temperature of the student then registers on a monitor in the office.

Students with higher than normal temperatures will be stopped and further evaluated. The camera can even recognize when someone is wearing a mask.

“We lose about an hour a day that our partner schools really get to have, so we wanted to make sure we had an effective and efficient way to do temperatures very quickly,” Smith said.

In addition the cameras, the district also purchased two atomizer sprayers. In combination with a UV light, which is coming before school starts, custodians can sanitize hallways and classrooms in a fraction of the time as compared to before. Smith said the UV light is good for sanitizing the tops of surfaces, and the sprayer can get to harder-to-reach spaces like under desks.

“We can use those same type of protocols to prevent other types of sickness going around in the school building,” he said.

Hi-Point has spent about $100,000 on getting ready for the new year.

Both districts received financial help for their upgrades from the State of Ohio and the federal government.

Jenna Lawson

Jenna Lawson

I grew up in Springfield and I'm a big fan of all things Springfield, including Schuler's & the Clark County Fair. A career in journalism never really was a serious thought until the end of high school. You just have epiphanies sometimes, and that's the only way I can explain why I got into this line of work – but I'm happier for it!