Southern Arizona school district using new tool to keep students, teachers safe during COVID-19 pandemic

As coronavirus cases continue to increase in Arizona, school districts are getting creative when it comes to keeping students safe for when they return in August.

"It’s almost an impossible challenge," said David Verdugo, Superintendent with the Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District.

For the Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District in Southern Arizona, officials say they are adapting and taking all the essential safety precautions to reopen in August.

"Teachers will be wearing PPE as well as shields. We’re looking at some desk shields as well for students," said Verdugo. "It’s really getting our students back in person so that we can develop those relationships because that’s where the learning occurs, and also providing that emotional support."

Coatimundi Middle School in Rio Rico, Arizona is using a unique tool to help fight the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Stephanie Bennett/ Fox News)

In Rio Rico, located along I-19 north of Nogales, a school will also be using new power breezers. They look like large fans which spray classrooms with disinfectant.

'We mixed EPA-approved disinfectants following the CDC guidelines. We dilute it to about a 0.1 solution in water, and then we disperse it over five to six minutes," said Bryan Hoadley with Power Breezer.

The giant fans are typically used to cool down the military or athletes, and they are now being repurposed to disperse disinfectants to combat COVID-19.

"You get a microfilm of that disinfectant on all the surfaces, you let it sit for the dwell time, anywhere from five to eight minutes, depending on the product your using," said Hoadley.

After about 15 minutes, school staff members say the room is clean and most importantly, safe to enter. They will be using the fans daily.

"Once it’s ventilated, it’s very safe," said Hoadley. "It’s just like if you were going to a pool or your kids were going to a pool."

These giant fans called Power Breezers are being used to spread disinfectant across classrooms and on buses. The Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District purchased 6 of them. (Stephanie Bennett/ Fox News)

Not only will it help keep everyone safe, school officials say it is cost-effective as well.

"We’re always looking for proactive ways, especially when the pandemic hit, to one: prepare to come back to school, but also keep our students and our staff as safe as possible," said Verdugo.

The school district purchased six Power Breezer fans to be used in schools and on buses. For the new school year, they are planning to offer students a mix of in-school and at-home learning.

The company says the fans take about 5 to 8 minutes to fully spray a room, once it's aired out it is perfectly safe for students to enter. Schools in Washington, Florida, and California are also interested in using them to disinfect. (Stephanie Bennett/ Fox News)

From the Power Breezer  Disinfectant Dispersal FAQ at

"We have tested using chlorine bleach but other CDC/EPA approved disinfectants may be used. In order to be effective, the disinfectant must be a water-soluble disinfectant that appears on the EPA-list for SARS-CoV-2, and not just generally approved by the EPA or FDA for other uses."

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COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)