GILL, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A Franklin County-based bus company is preparing for the school year with a new technology to quickly disinfect school buses.

The move comes as buses will have to transport students while keeping them safe from COVID-19

When students are allowed to board the school buses again, the rules for preventing COVID-19 have been laid out: one student per bench, windows open for air flow, and masks for every rider.

However, just as COVID-19 has altered the way kids ride to school, the winds of change are blowing a new cleaning method over school buses with the Gill-based F.M. Kuzmeskus Company.

Co-owner Pam Reipold, faced with the prospect of deep-cleaning buses every day, had an idea that cut through the haze.

“I reached out to my friends at Bete and said ‘You guys have any kind of fogging system that would work for us?’ Within few days, their engineers were on the phone,” Reipold said.

Bete Fog Nozzle in Greenfield developed a disinfectant fog that can efficiently clean buses using a pressurized system.

“We don’t have to worry about under or over-saturation,” Reipold added.

Rather than manually cleaning each bus with spray and a cloth, this new technique can fill a bus with a cloud of disinfectant in three to five minutes.

“Start to finish, if we went in and cleaned all of the hard surfaces and then disinfected the entire bus by hand, it would be between 30 and 45 minutes,” said Jonathan Harris, diesel technician at F.M. Kuzmeskus.

While Harris told Western Mass News the solution takes 15 to 20 minutes to dry, he said it only takes five minutes to kill germs.

In addition, Harris noted, “The chemical we use is food safe.”

The bus company serves several Franklin County schools and has already tried the system out on one district in Vermont.

While it doesn’t have them misty-eyed, local school officials said the new system provides extra piece of mind to their communities.

“It helps to build the confidence of not only parents, but also staff,” said Brian Beck, superintendent of the Gill-Montague School District.

Rick Martin, superintendent of Franklin County Technical School, added, “That’s an extra layer of trying to help our students feel safe and be healthy.”

Even when the pandemic is over, Kusmeskus officials hope to roll out their disinfecting cloud over other seasonal illnesses.

“We can use it to cut down on cold and flu,” Harris noted.

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