PRESS RELEASE: January 24, 2022
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris McKinney (803-774-1384)
COG Uses Funding from SC Department of Commerce to Keep Kids Safe on Buses
Santee-Lynches Regional COG received over $858K to install cutting edge technology on 331 school buses.
SUMTER, SC – The South Carolina Department of Commerce received $39,499,819 into the Community Block Development Grant (CDBG) Program from CARES Act funding. The funding was divided up into the tranches: CDBG-Coronavirus (CV) 1, CDBG-CV 2 and CDBG-CV 3. The Santee-Lynches COG received $858,437 in funding under tranche CDBG-CV 1.
During the fall of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, after much internal deliberation on how to use the funding, COG staff presented the idea of installing Far-UVC Light Technology on school buses. The idea was presented to the four County Administrators (Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee, and Sumter), all school district superintendents (Clarendon 2, Clarendon 4, Kershaw, Lee, and Sumter) and the COG board. All parties saw the benefits and bought into the project.
So, what is this project exactly?
Our project put FAR-UVC Light technology onto school buses in each school district. Far-UVC light is a technology that is 99.9% effective at killing all pathogens. As a result of the light saturation, pathogens, whether airborne or surface bound, are eliminated. The goal of the project was to add a layer of protection to help our regional schools stay open (remain resilient). The technology provides an ongoing passive disinfection/decontamination for the buses.
At the time the project intent aligned perfectly with President Biden’s national goals, Governor McMaster’s state goals and the priorities of the South Carolina Dept of Commerce in focusing on protecting our kids and safely educating them. Over 2-years into the pandemic the objective is still relevant as there are numerous areas across the nation and our state that are struggling with keeping kids in the classroom due to impacts from COVID-19. This technology on our buses is an added layer of protection.
This project was deemed necessary because of the congregation and proximity of riders while traveling to and from school. This project offered a tertiary layer of protection to school faculty members and the parents and caregivers of the children at home. Further, the use of FAR-UVC on school buses can be used for numerous years as the technology is effective at eliminating H1N1, SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses. Schools within the Santee-Lynches Region will be prepared not only for any ongoing impacts of COVID-19, but any other outbreak that might arise.
How many people are affected by this project?
The COG used the South Carolina Department of Commerce funding to install the technology on 331 school buses across the five school districts. There are 33,729 students that ride the buses and 331 bus drivers for a total of 34,060 people directly affected by the project. There are 2088 teachers and administrators in our region. Also, across our region we average 2.5 people per household. This means our project will indirectly have a positive impact on an added approximately 90,370 people that have children in the schools or have a person in their home that work in the schools. That is a very big impact!
So, why was this important to the COG?
We firmly believe that our public K4- through 12 school system is a critical node in community and economic development. Our K4 – 12 public school system is the primary pipeline that produces the citizens that live in our community and also the workforce for our community. If we fail to invest in them (K4 – 12 kids), we choose to limit our future. It would be like cutting off our nose in spite of our face. We also wanted to support our teachers, administrators, and support staff. We wanted to do something to make them feel just a little bit safer. The bottom line is, our public schools matter!
So, what is next?
The Santee-Lynches COG Board was very fortunate to receive an additional $1.502 million from the South Carolina Department of Commerce to install the same technology in one primary school entrance in each school and enough to cover all the cafeteria space in every school across our four-county region. This will be another huge step forward for our rural schools. As our schools have strong protocols in-place to try and limit COVID spread, the cafeteria is the one place where all kids have their masks off in a very confined space. The technology will allow them to eat with reduced risk from the upper respiratory virus.
A recent World Health Organization study showed that having a room equipped with the appropriate number of Far-UVC lights is equivalent to 35 air exchanges per hour. The CDC recommends air handling systems should supply 6-12 exchanges per hour. This new project will supply nearly three times more protection than the CDC recommends.
Clarendon 2, Clarendon 4, Kershaw, Lee, and Sumter School Districts are the only schools in the state that have this type of technology on their school buses and will soon be the only ones that have Far-UVC technology in all their schools. The schools in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas do not have this technology in their schools. Our rural four-county region is leading the way!
The COG Board of Directors is very grateful for the injection of funds into our rural communities provided by the South Carolina Department of Commerce.
About Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments
Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments is a premier organization committed to optimizing our region’s unique strengths for a better tomorrow. Our mission is to deliberately enhance the quality of life and provide opportunities for the advancement of our region. Santee-Lynches serves the counties and cities of Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee, and Sumter. To learn more, visit www.santeelynchescog.org.