Are UV Charging Stations Effective for Classroom Laptops?
As schools prepare to bring students back in the summer and fall, one item top of mind for many districts is how to keep students’ devices clean, charged, and secure in the classroom environment.
Many districts are looking at housing hundreds or thousands of devices they didn’t have before the pandemic began. One idea that’s generating a lot of attention is sanitizing tablets, Chromebooks, and laptops with UV light. UV light sterilization can be a great method to kill microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses. However, it’s important to be very cautious about UV charging carts on the market.
12 questions to ask before you purchase UV charging carts:
- Do your devices open? For laptops and Chromebooks, UV light exposure does nothing for the keyboard and screen if the laptops are closed in the UV charging carts.
- Does the manufacturer list the kind of UV light, or the wavelength range? Only UVC in a range between 100-280 nm is effective at killing pathogens.
- Do they provide the length of time for UV light exposure for each device for different pathogens? Not all pathogens are killed with the same length of UV light exposure, it varies by species.
- What length of time are you allowing for the UV light to sanitize the devices, a passing period? Is that enough time to truly clean the device?
- If used after school hours, will a timer shut off the UV light? The cleaning effectiveness of the UV light decreases over time.
- What is the cost of the replacement light bulbs for the UV charging carts?
- Do the UV lights in the laptop charging cart shine their light on the outside of every side of the device, or is the tech stacked so the devices are occluding the UV light stream to other devices? UV light is only effective at sanitizing an object in its direct path, and from the proper distance.
- Do they provide the distance away the UV light needs to be from each device? Light scatters the farther away it is, so the distance can interfere with effectiveness.
- How many UV bulbs does the design offer, and from how many angles does their light shine?
- Direct contact with UVC light at wavelengths that kill pathogens is also harmful to our skin and eyes. What safety precautions are in place in the cart to avoid this exposure risk?
- UV charging carts that meet all these science-based standards will cost significantly more than other charging solutions. Is the added expense of a UV light sanitizing charging cart going to give you the results you want? Would switching to a different classroom technology deployment model provide the safety you’re looking for at a better cost?
- Disinfecting devices is only one part of keeping the classroom tech deployment model safe. How does the design of the charging cart affect how students retrieve and return devices? Will there be a traffic jam at the cart when the bell sounds? Does the design make it easy to plug in devices properly without damaging the cords? Will the teacher need to touch and return every device before sanitizing? How much time does that take, in each classroom, each period, every day?
Perhaps a solution one day will effectively and inexpensively sanitize a classroom set of devices in an instant. Until then, assigning dedicated devices to students remains the best approach to reduce the spread of germs. When the deployment model involves students grabbing devices at the beginning of each period in different classrooms, there will always be a higher risk for spreading more germs.
The safer model many school districts already use is the homeroom model.
This model works best if the district is 1:1, where the students are moving from classroom to classroom, and the district wants to keep the technology securely charging in the classrooms overnight. During their first period homeroom, students retrieve their assigned device that fully charged overnight. After using this same device throughout the day, they return it to the dedicated charging shelf before they head home.
PowerGistics charging Towers are designed with this exact homeroom model in mind for middle and high schoolers.
The vertical design not only saves a lot of space in the classroom, it also provides numbered shelves of different colors for students to easily identify their own device. Releasing students in groups of 2-5 based on the shelf color to retrieve their device eliminates traffic jams and creates social distance. With a dedicated shelf, secure cable management, and the open door concept, students only need to touch their shelf and power cable. This student managed approach also ensures that the teacher’s touch is minimal too – their only touch is locking and unlocking the Tower at the beginning and end of the day. They can see from across the room who has or has not returned their device because of the open and asymmetric front door design.
Additionally, PowerGistics Towers are now available with an Antimicrobial Powder Coat, which further reduces the growth and spread of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, mildew, and mold. The powder coat finish cannot guarantee to kill all microorganisms, only help prevent their growth and spread.
An optional cleaning caddy hooks to the side of the Tower and is just the right size for a sanitizing wipes canister. Cleaning the “old fashioned way” with disinfectants is still the recommendation from medical health professionals and the CDC.
Lastly, the PowerGistics new USB Tower Series includes the USB-C cables. Schools can now save the power bricks to send home with students in case of school closures. The Tower only takes 5-15 minutes to wire at setup. Enjoy maintenance free cable management for the full device life cycle — or longer, if the next devices also use USB-C.