DeKalb County to install UV technology to fight COVID-19 in classrooms

Credit: Healthe, Inc.

Credit: Healthe, Inc.

Ultraviolet technology worth $100,000 will be installed at dozens of DeKalb County schools to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

The district received a donation of 100 Healthe AIR troffers to install in ceilings above high-traffic areas at schools, said Chief Operations Officer D. Benjamin Estill.

Healthe, the company behind the technology, said the troffers use a quiet fan to draw air into the device where UV lighting eliminates harmful microbes, which improves indoor air quality. The donation is valued at $100,000, DeKalb schools said in a news release Tuesday.

Estill said the district will prioritize schools that do not have upgraded filtration systems for the installation project.

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UV lighting has been used for about a century to fight infections, according to a June 2020 NPR article. It’s also been shown to help hospitals reduce the spread of superbugs like staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, according to a study done by researchers at Duke Health.

DeKalb schools, which has about 93,000 students, reopened classrooms in March to students who wanted to return to in-person learning. The district said the new technology will enhance its current strategy of fighting COVID-19 in schools.

DeKalb is the second district in metro Atlanta to explore UV lighting to bolster its strategy of preventing COVID-19 from spreading in classrooms. The Cobb County Board of Education in December voted to use up to $12 million to install UV lighting troffers, as well as hand-rinsing machines containing aqueous ozone, at elementary schools.

However, the district in March halted the installation after the devices malfunctioned in two offices at an elementary school. The district is in talks with Protek Life, Inc., the company behind the lighting, to remove the technology from schools.