How LED and UV-C lighting can significantly improve the wellbeing of our children during the return to school.Tracy Kemp
The challenge facing schools, pupils and their peers.
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown is an unprecedented situation in modern times. It is hard to gauge the full impact that the situation is having on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Pupils’ experiences of the lockdown period will have been very varied. For some, it will mostly have been a safe and enjoyable time. For others, it will have been challenging or traumatic. Schools and teachers are used to supporting their pupils through challenges that they face in life – the current situation will amplify this anxiety many times over.
As lighting professionals, humanlumen have utilised this time to study, understand and create solutions to enable the return to school and the workplace alongside the ongoing experience when life becomes the new normal. The evidence we gained suggests that when schools reopen, the need for pastoral support, safeguarding and wellbeing surroundings will be high. Some children and young people will have relatives or friends who have died during the lockdown, due to coronavirus or other illnesses. Still more, will have been aware of a relative or friend being seriously unwell or hospitalised. For other young people, there will have been other types of loss – for example, parents who have been furloughed or lost their job, a home and/or school move, or they may have experienced long-term isolation from important figures in their life such as grandparents. Many children and young people entered lockdown in already challenging home environments. These challenging circumstances will likely have been amplified by families being quarantined at home together. Others will have faced these challenging experiences for the first time. The sudden and unprecedented changes that the lockdown imposed on everyone are likely to have left many children and young people feeling uncertain about the future. For some, this will be a fear of a second lockdown, for others it will be a general sense that things that used to feel safe and predictable, such as school, may no longer be something they can rely on. There may be a lack of confidence amongst young people in the adults in their lives. As they have seen adults struggle to agree about how to manage the crisis, their sense that they can rely on adults to keep them safe may have been diminished. As the lockdown period is likely to span the end of one school year, the usual preparation that would be done with all pupils for their transition to the next school year will be lacking. This will be particularly challenging for children who were starting school, moving from primary to secondary school, and those who are leaving school. For those who were approaching the end of their time at school – whether they were awaiting transitions to college or university or looking for work – the impact of the virus and lockdown period on admissions processes, exam results and employment prospects remains unclear, and many pupils are likely to worry about their future.
Supporting pupils to return to school through the power of light:
Ongoing studies into tuneable lighting in Education facilities by humanlumen show clear and defined positive results when compared directly with traditional fluorescent lighting. A range of tuneable LED sources installed including controller and panel with pre-set scenes to create differing centric scenes throughout the day has proven marked effects on positive wellbeing along with improved mood and attention. The responses and mood of pupils will be significantly affected utilising colour temperatures ranging from 2800K to 5800K. On top of measurable evidence, students will experience significant improvements in mood and energy levels at the different level colour temperatures. The influence of different lighting conditions on the psychophysiological background has also been observed, including a relaxing trend with LED lighting at 2800K. In addition to the form-based tests, students have given their subjective assessments of the different lighting types. When asked: “How do you feel right now?” at a warm (about 2800K) colour temperature of the lighting, most students reported being relaxed, drowsy and unwilling to perform any activity. In response to the same question at a cold (about 5800K) colour temperature of the lighting, most students reported being alert, energetic and willing to work.
UV-C lighting technology to deep clean the classroom and common areas:
humanlumen has introduced the Clean Air Series, a range of UV-C Air Sterilisation units, providing a reliable and sustainable solution for a safe ‘Return to School’. The Clean Air Series is a range of efficient UV-C lighting devices that actively reduce the bacterial and viral charge of the air in closed environments and is ideal for a typical 56m/2 classroom environment. This innovative design can provide fast sterilisation for offices, classrooms, hotel rooms and healthcare environments. The International Ultraviolet Association (IUVA) states that UV disinfection technologies can play a role in a multiple barrier approach to reducing the transmission of the virus causing COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2, based on current disinfection data and empirical evidence. The powerful UV-C radiation is totally isolated inside the Air Filtration System (AFS) as exposure of UV light, of any type, in high dosage to the naked eye will cause potential long-term health issues. The system draws in contaminated air and removes all bacteria through a series of integral filters and then delivers clean air back into the space. Each unit cleanses up to 3000 cubic metres of open office space and is a simple plug and play system with no integration into the existing mechanical systems. The clean air units work like an air purifier, but instead of filters it uses the UVC technology to eliminate the viruses. The fan located in the bottom of the fitting sucks in the air of the room and channels it through a series of UV-C light canals that have the UV-C lights. The UV-C neutralises the viruses and the clean air is released in the room through a carbon filter. The carbon filter’s main purpose is to clean the odours from the air, with an additional dust filter at the entrance of the fan, neither is essential to kill bacteria, this is the role of the UV-C light. In addition to the air purification humanlumen have launched high quality LED lighting to offer Centric solutions which also incorporate direct UV-C technology. In effect the LED lights will activate during the use of the room offering the users high quality varying light sources. This light source will then be deactivated once users leave the room either for breaks or at the end of the school day at which point the UV-C element of the fitting will be triggered which will deep clean the room surfaces of bacterial contaminates.