Denver Public Schools to install disinfecting lights on more than 300 buses

Denver Public Schools students who ride the bus to and from school will soon do so in a germ-killing glow.

On Tuesday, the district unveiled 10 buses outfitted with VioSafe disinfecting lights that kill germs and bacteria on surfaces. DPS plans to make the lights standard features on every one of its 325 buses by January, adding an extra measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

The LED bulbs attack and kill the hosts for microbes, effectively sanitizing the surfaces where the light reaches, said Tim Mickey, who sells buses for McCandless Bus Center dealership and negotiated the deal with DPS. Each 7-inch, circular light shines across a 12-foot radius and kills about 90% of germs, he said.

“Those LED lights work off 400 to 405 nanometer lighting scale. What that means is it’s 100% safe light that you can be exposed to 24/7 — people, pets, kids, students,” Mickey said.

According to Mickey, the technology was first adopted by first responders in ambulances and emergency rooms, but has been embraced by schools as they put up COVID-19 safeguards. Greeley-Evans School District 6 was the first in Colorado to purchase buses with the lights installed, though DPS is the first to outfit its entire fleet, he said.

The lights are one of several mitigation strategies the district is using in hopes of keeping COVID-19 at bay. Bus drivers and students are required to wear masks while in transit, only one kid is permitted per seat unless they are traveling with a sibling, and drivers sanitize their vehicles by wiping down surfaces between routes and using an electrostatic sprayer at the end of each day.

DPS spent about $400,000 from CARES Act funding on the project, said spokeswoman Winna MacLaren.

“We’re limited in what we can do on our buses, so the disinfecting lights were a sound investment,” she said.

Buses are the only places DPS plans to install these lights at this time, MacLaren added.

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