The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted how we all live, work and learn.

Fortunately, the pandemic is now much less severe in scope and severity. Some public health experts, including researchers at Yale University, predict that COVID-19 may soon become endemic, similar to the seasonal flu. However, the coronavirus is far from over, as variants continue to emerge and almost 40,000 COVID-19 cases are still reported daily in the U.S.

So although we are ready to move on, it is becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 is a burden we will likely continue to bear, at least in the near term.

In this article, we share how one university kept its doors open during the pandemic by taking proactive steps to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) as part of their comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation strategy and why they recommend needlepoint bipolar ionization (NPBI™) to other school administrators as well.

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Schools

The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for educational institutions. Most schools — from elementary schools to colleges and universities — were required to very quickly transition from in-person instruction to virtual learning.

In addition to the logistical challenges associated with implementing a new learning modality virtually overnight, many administrators also observed a higher degree of absenteeism among students, and even sizable drops in enrollment during the pandemic.

But one university had a markedly different experience than many others, thanks to a decision they made years earlier to address a common IAQ issue: mold.

Southern Adventist University’s Proactive Approach to Cleaner Indoor Air

Established in 1892 and located in Collegedale, Tennessee, Southern Adventist University (SAU) is one of 13 schools owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

In 2015, SAU staff noticed a persistent and escalating problem with mold in some of their buildings. After researching potential ways to combat the issue, facility managers installed GPS’ patented needlepoint bipolar ionization technology in several student apartments to see what effect NPBI had on the presence of mold. They collected data for two weeks before NPBI was introduced, as well as for two weeks after the installation of the ionizers.

SAU’s Associate Vice President Marty Hamilton remarked that the results were nothing short of “astounding.”

NPBI Helps Reduce the Spread of SARS-CoV-2

Fast-forward five years to the start of the pandemic in early 2020. Having seen firsthand NPBI’s positive effect on addressing mold and compelling data from third-party testing on NPBI’s ability to reduce and inactivate SARS-CoV-2 airborne particles, Hamilton and his facilities team installed the air-cleaning technology in every on-campus building, as well as residence halls and off-campus apartments. Unlike most colleges and universities, SAU continued offering students both in-person and online learning options throughout the pandemic since they did not experience any major outbreaks, which Hamilton attributes in large part to NPBI.

“NPBI was a game changer for our university. Data showed that it was effective against other particles and certain pathogens, but now we’ve seen for ourselves how it can help prevent the spread of coronavirus too.”

SAU Recommends NPBI for Other Schools

Word soon spread about SAU’s successful implementation of NPBI and how it helped keep students in the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other schools within SAU’s national network of higher education institutions, as well as local K-12 schools and churches, were eager to learn more. Hamilton and his team were happy to share their experience and don’t hesitate to recommend NPBI to others.

Watch this short video with SAU’s Marty Hamilton to learn more about the university’s implementation of NPBI, and contact us for more information about our technology and extensive line of products.