Slidell Independent School District (ISD) near Dallas has among the lowest rates of reported COVID-19 infections and its superintendent is attributing the success to having acquired an indoor anti-virus air filtration system.
“Our attendance was higher last year than it was in months at the same time of year prior to COVID,” said Taylor Williams, Slidell ISD Superintendent. “Not only does it kill COVID, it kills the flu and all sorts of viruses. We have noticed even an improvement in just the spread of illness throughout our campus.”
Currently, the district has 10 tall mobile air disinfection plug-and-play units and four medium sized mobile units along with 40 smaller table top units on order from Integrated Viral Protection (IVP).
“It was nice during basketball season because we were able to move the mobile units around and put them in two corners of the gym when we had crowds and spectators,” Williams told Dallas Express. “During passing periods, they were in the hallways as kids were moving from room to room. Now, we have them strategically placed throughout the buildings and in high traffic areas.”
Since acquiring the IVP technology in August 2020, Slidell ISD has maintained an attendance rate of up to 97%, according to Texas Education Agency (TEA) data.
“There’s been schools around us in the 80% attendance range and even when our hospitals were over capacity less than a month ago, we were still sitting at 97% attendance every day and we haven’t had a student or staff COVID case in over six weeks,” Williams said in an interview.
IVP’s technology is a HEPA-certified biodefense air filter with kill capacity.
“What we’re seeing is that the air purifiers that don’t have a kill capacity because we’re the only ones that do, are potentially spreading the virus in a way because nothing is being killed,” said Dr. Garrett Peel, IVP’s executive principal. “The HEPA filter has to be able to capture a 0.3 micron and above organism or particle.”
Conroe ISD is following in Slidell’s footsteps. The Houston district approved a $1.7 million investment in IVP technology to help clear the air at their schools.
“The way to mitigate person-to-person transmission of any kind of respiratory illness is by pumping in the cleanest, freshest air possible and when you disinfect the air on top of it, not just recycle the pathogens in the air, you make a real difference in not only transmission in the case of COVID and potentially whatever else is to come, but also saving lives,” Peel told Dallas Express.
Slidell ISD used ESSER funds to pay for the technology after Williams garnered the support of the school board.
“I took a risk on this technology when it was pretty new on the market and I did my research,” she added. “The system has performed well beyond my expectations. I would have never thought that in the middle of a pandemic, our attendance would have been higher than it was prior and that we would have been able to stay open face-to-face. We have all of our kids here every day face-to-face.”