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By Chris Mays and Kristopher Radder
BRATTLEBORO — School buses will be disinfected with a new fogging system twice daily, in the morning and in the afternoon, to protect against the spread of COVID-19 among students.
"We are so excited to be able to utilize this system," said Pam Reipold, executive vice president and co-owner of F.M. Kuzmeskus Inc., the Gill, Mass.-based bus company that serves the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union.
Reipold said WSESU supported the effort to keep students and bus drivers safe with a system that goes beyond what state health guidelines call for. Buses serving schools in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, Putney and Vernon will soon be outfitted with the Bete FastPASS (Public Area Spray System). Using nozzles and compressors, the system is designed to cut down on the time it takes to manually spray. The nozzles are hooked up to compressors that inject the disinfectant. It takes about three minutes to spray and 30 minutes for the disinfectant to dissolve.
The system allows for two buses to be sprayed at once. It also is designed to remove human error.
Ted Toothaker, systems engineer for Bete Fog Nozzle of Greenfield, Mass., said the bus company approached his group about the project.
"We've had experience with systems before that had similar nozzles," he said. "We ended up coming up with this idea after doing some tests at our facility."
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Toothaker recalled starting testing and development sometime in early May. He described the process involving "trial and error."
Toothaker said his group hopes to connect with other bus companies that want a system, and others are in development.
"Even though the system really does make our buses super clean and healthy and safe, school districts are still really asking families to transport their own children if they can, simply to keep the number on the buses lower," Reipold said. "Even though the buses are really clean, we still need to practice as much social distancing as we can."
Drivers will wipe down all the touched surfaces in between bus routes. Hand sanitizers also will be installed at the doorways of the buses.
Students will go to the back of the bus and sit in every other seat diagonally. Those at the front will exit first.
Bus monitors will help screen students by taking their temperatures before they get on buses.
Reach staff writer Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.