Air purifiers, hand-sanitizing stations, ubiquitous health and safety rules and signage, participation in the Utah Health & Economic Recovery Outreach (HERO) Project, and now, our very own disinfecting monoliths: last month, Rowland Hall added two ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light towers to our arsenal of tools and protocols for minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re incredibly lucky to have these machines,” said alum Gita Varner ’05, Rowland Hall’s project manager for reopening campus. “They’re in full swing in the afternoons and evenings, resetting Lincoln Street Campus classrooms and getting them ready for the next day. They’ve been especially helpful as the weather has become colder and we’ve had to move our HERO testing, as well as testing for our Upper School athletes, inside.”
Rowland Hall started using the devices—the hospital-grade R-Zero Arc—in early November, thanks to a generous donation from parents Benjamin and Joanna Boyer. According to biosafety company R-Zero, the 78-inch-high UV-C light towers can disinfect a 1,000-square-foot room in just seven minutes, destroying over 99.99% of surface and airborne pathogens.
The lights are among the latest upgrades to help us combat COVID-19. After Thanksgiving, we added air purifiers to Upper School classrooms. We also have one of the highest participation rates among Utah schools in the HERO Project, which provides rapid testing and aims to reduce outbreaks.
The towers are among the latest improvements to help the school combat COVID-19. After Thanksgiving break, we also added powerful Blue Pure 211+ air purifiers to every Upper School classroom, even looping a student into the process: freshman Rodrigo Fernandez-Esquivias assisted Gita in researching purifier options. And in September, Head of School Mick Gee announced Rowland Hall’s participation in the HERO Project. This public health initiative—implemented by the University of Utah and funded by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget—aims to enhance school response to COVID-19 and reduce outbreaks. It provides voluntary rapid testing (outside, in a large room, or using a drive-through) for Rowland Hall classmates and teachers only after an individual in their class or cohort reports a positive case. Rowland Hall has had one of the highest project participation rates among Utah schools.
Rowland Hall’s leading participation in the HERO Project is just one COVID-era example of our conscientious, supportive community—traits that have helped our school be one of the few in the Salt Lake City area to offer in-person learning. The Boyer family donation for the UV-C light towers was another such example, and it triggered a smaller one. Following the arrival of the towers, computer science teacher and student and plant dad Ben Smith ’89 surveyed his colleagues to help inventory their campus plants and keep them safe from any potential UV-C light damage. It was a simple, green-thumbed gesture—but one that was reflective of the broader thoughtfulness and adaptability that Rowland Hall faculty, staff, students, and parents have modeled since the pandemic’s start.