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“We began receiving phone calls and emails from people involved in school transportation asking if we had any products that would help reduce the presence of COVID-19 on their buses,” he explained. “ProAir had some experience in this field through our special products division, where we had been supplying the ambulance market with air filtration units utilizing HEPA Filters and UVC lights. Our engineering team went to work researching how to apply this technology to a full size 40-foot school bus, and we developed the HEPA-6 Filtration Unit for school buses in May 2020.” Ventilation is as much of a concern on buses as it is in facilities to

combat COVID-19. Oberdorff said some operators can utilize CARES Act funding for purchases of air filtration systems for their vehicles. “With about 70 percent of the COVID-19 virus being spread through the

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air attached to water particles, we knew proper air filtration had to be part of the COVID-19 containment solution,” he said. “In early research, we looked to the CDC guidelines on how many air turns per hour were recom- mend for a hospital room to minimize the viral load and that information and subsequent testing helped determine the size of the blowers to apply to the new school bus air filtration units. In addition to the high capac- ity TRUE HEPA Filter, the units can also be supplied with a virus killing UVC light. The HEPA-6 air purifying unit, when used in conjunction with surface cleaning and sanitizing and passengers wearing masks and dis- tancing, will reduce the viral load on the buses. Air filtration will also reduce other harmful airborne particulates. We believe air filtration will be here to stay as we are all now more aware of the importance of personal protection and the health benefits of air filtration on buses.” Meanwhile, Trans/Air owner Rick Lehnert said there is no way to guar-

antee school buses are free of viruses and bacteria, But a new 100-percent organic MERV3 prefilter medium system being developed could reduce the probablility of transmission. He added that filter replacement is a necessary part of any regular maintenance schedule at 10,000 to 12,000 mile intervals, depending on the operating environment and vehicle usage. He also said the filter cannot be cleaned and should be discarded rather than reused.

Funding COVID-19-Related Equipment and Supplies Acquistion and procurement of bus ventilation, PPE, sprayers, tracking systems, and other equipment and supplies to prevent the virus and its spread cost money. Many schools are struggling with a viable plan to reopen at all and are often challenged to find the funds to support the supplies, equipment, and assets they need to enable reopening—virtual or in person. Most of the larges U.S. schools are still not open for in-person learning, at this report. According to Education Week, 74 percent of the 100 largest

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91% 38 School Transportation News • NOVEMBER 2020

readers WHo say they have made direct Pandemic- related purchases rather than Via Traditional RFP. (Out of 151 reader responses.)

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