Children returning to lessons at 12 local schools this week are the latest people to be protected by hand sanitiser made at Swansea University, where a solar tech lab has temporarily switched production during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The University team producing the sanitiser, who were already supplying the NHS, care homes and housing organisations, are now providing it to schools, to help keep children safe.
They started by supplying Dwr y Felin comprehensive school in Neath, which is a hub school that remained open throughout lockdown to look after vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers.
Now, as pupils across south Wales return to school, the team is supplying the sanitiser – which meets the standard set by the World Health Organization - to 12 schools and colleges across the region.
The University team is made up of over 30 volunteers from three different Colleges and Schools. Manufacturing is being led by SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, who specialise in solar research and in developing buildings that generate, store and release their own solar energy.
Mrs Lisa Thomas, Assistant Head (Inclusion) at Dwr-Y-Felin Comprehensive School, said:
"To offer our services to key workers’ children in our Hub we needed hand sanitiser. During those early days of lockdown this was impossible to source. At one stage it looked like we were not going to be able to continue to provide child care for our key workers.
It was at this point that we got together with Swansea University. They were able to offer us a product developed by them, locally, which meant that we were able to get the quantities we needed and fast. It was comforting to know that they were able to help us out during this very difficult time.
We at Dwr-Y-Felin have again turned to our friends at Swansea University to help us ensure that the staff and pupils have the sanitation products they need for a safe return to school.
We have hand sanitisers in every classroom, and in corridors and teaching areas, for all staff and pupils. We anticipate using large amounts so we’re using refillable containers and we have refilling stations.
Swansea University's product is the key element which has allowed us to re-open."
Other staff comments include:
• “After spraying it you feel that your hands have had a good wash as its coverage is great.”
• “Absorbs well and isn’t tacky, which is great.”
• “I use the spray on my mouse, key pad and phone; it gives good coverage which is reassuring”.
• “Because it’s very liquid-based you feel more reassured as it spreads well in your hands.”
Dr Iain Robertson from the College of Science at Swansea University, one of the volunteer team producing the hand sanitiser, said:
“We have been able to adapt quickly to support frontline staff and vulnerable people, and now schools. Swansea University, with the support of several local companies, has produced 34,000 litres of WHO-recommended hand sanitiser.
We are delighted to see that it is helping to keep pupils and staff in a dozen local schools safe.”