Southern Adventist University Installs "Coronavirus-killing" Air Filtration Systems — and More News Shorts

This week’s news round-up includes stories from Southern Adventist University, Blue Mountain SDA Elementary School, Israel, and Australia.

Southern Adventist University Installs "Coronavirus-killing" Air Filtration Systems. Working to keep students safe as they return to class this fall, Southern Adventist University unveiled one unique tool administrators believe will help, installing "Coronavirus-killing" air filtration systems. SAU began working with this technology in 2015 and now is installing the filters in all on-campus buildings. At this point the university has installed nearly half of its filtration units. Installation should be complete by August; the total cost of installation will be just under half-a-million dollars.

"Our goal is the protection of our students who want to come back. They’re anxious to come back. We just wanted to build a stronger defense and find something that would help protect the students who walk this campus and sit in our classrooms," says Martin Hamilton, Associate Vice President of Southern Adventist University. In addition to installing these filtration systems, the university is taking other precautionary measures including regularly taking students' and faculty's temperature, requiring all wear masks in classrooms, and staff frequently cleaning facilities.

The systems use bipolar ionization technology which works by launching microscopic particles that attack viruses including COVID-19. The technology is already being used in hospitals across the U.S., in some sporting arenas, and in fast-food chains like Chipotle. Researchers are still studying how effective this technology is in fighting COVID-19, but some studies have shown it kills up to 99 percent of airborne COVID-19 particles. From News Channel 9, “Southern Adventist University installs 'COVID-19 killing' air filtration system.”

Blue Mountain SDA Elementary School Students Overcome Two Major Challenges to Their Education. The Blue Mountain Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, is no stranger to overcoming challenges. In July 2015, a tornado destroyed the building, which has since been rebuilt. Students and staff enjoyed one full school year in the building before facing the latest challenge: the COVID-19 pandemic. "We didn't even finish the second year (in the building) because of COVID-19," said Karl Halye, school board chair.

Students left school March 13 with backpacks full of everything they would need to finish their work for the rest of the school year. They were able to continue learning when schools were physically closed and completed 180 days of instruction without any lost days of learning.

Principal and teacher Kaisy Marschner knew there was a possibility students may not be returning to school the following Monday. Marschner and Halye had many conversations about the two-week closure over the weekend that was followed by a school board meeting March 16. On March 17, the students were home, set up in their virtual classrooms and completing assignments.

“Our parents were phenomenal,” Marschner said. “Our kids are great. I love our kids, but our parents, they were really the key to success here. Communication was so important.”

Parents also had to transition to playing a larger role in their child's education. Gina Fuhrmann of Mohrsville said overall it was a great experience for her family and her son Joshua, 9, was still receiving the same level of education.

Joshua, who just finished third grade, enjoyed the new way of learning but did miss seeing his friends. “I liked spending more time with my family and (teacher Matthew) White was always there to help me,” Joshua said. “I liked some of the extra credit work like watching art videos.”

It is still unknown what the start of the 2020-21 school year will be like. There is hope students and teachers will return to school as they had been before the pandemic, but if that is not the case, Halye feels the school is prepared. “I feel very confident if we have to go back to distance learning,” Halye said. “I think the experience that we gained, we’re not going to lose anything. We’ll continue on with the program like we did.” From Reading Eagle, “Blue Mountain Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School doesn't let pandemic stop students from learning.”

Ritual Cannabis Residue Found on Artifacts from an Ancient Jewish Temple. Israeli archaeologists say they have found cannabis residue on artifacts from an ancient temple in southern Israel — providing the first evidence of the use of hallucinogenics in the ancient Jewish religion. In a research paper, the authors say the discovery from an 8th-century B.C. shrine at Tel Arad offers the first proof for “the use of mind-altering substances as part of cultic rituals in Judah,” including the first Jewish Temple that stood in Jerusalem at the same time.

“Here, the official state religion of the kingdom of Judah was using this substance,” said Eran Arie, curator of Iron Age archaeology at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and lead author of the study. Because of the site's clear connection to the monarchy, he suggests it could point to how worship was conducted in the biblical Temple in Jerusalem. Yossi Garfinkel, an archaeology professor from Hebrew University who was not involved in the study, said that the ritual use of wine in Judaism, and some indications of opium use elsewhere in the region, suggests that for the ancient Israelites, it was “a desirable thing to get into ecstasy and connect with God.”

The absence of cannabis pollen or seeds from the ancient Near East indicates the cannabis was likely imported over long distance trade routes, possibly in the form of resin, known colloquially as hashish. The chemical analysis from the Tel Arad altar showed it was burned atop dried animal dung. Chemical analysis of the samples conducted at Israel's Hebrew University and Technion Institute found that one altar contained the psychoactive compounds found in marijuana, and the other had traces of frankincense — one of the ingredients mentioned in the Bible for the incense sacrifice in the ancient Jewish Temples, the authors wrote. The researchers published their findings in the academic journal, Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University. Arie said the discovery was “revolutionary,” as it was the earliest evidence of cannabis use in the ancient Near East and the “first time we see psychoactive substances in Judahite religion.” From Boston Globe, “Israeli scientists dig up cannabis traces in ancient temple.”

Super Rugby Star Leaves Sport in Honor of His SDA Beliefs. Rebels prop Fereti Sa'aga is retiring from professional rugby at just 25 to focus on his family. Sa'aga, who grew up in Melbourne before going onto make his Super Rugby debut for the club, was contracted through to 2022 but decided it was time to walk away.

In an announcement on the Rebels website on Wednesday, the club said the prop had been wrestling with balancing rugby and his faith as a Seventh-day Adventist.

Sa'aga said he was grateful to have the opportunity to play rugby in his hometown. “It’s just an incredible feeling to be part of history being one of the first local boys to put on the jersey and represent the city.”

Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson paid tribute to Sa'aga and his influence on the club. “I know from speaking with him that he has a sense of peace having made this decision and that he can move forward knowing that he can fully serve his faith and respect the seventh day, which had been playing on his mind. As a club, we have supported and been flexible with Fereti and he was certainly a part of our plans for the next couple of years. At the same time we absolutely respect his wishes and this very sincere decision that he has made.”

“Fereti has been a real trail blazer for the Rebels and he has been a great role model [for] young Melburnians," he said. "We are very proud of the player and person that he has become and he will always be a special part of our club. “This is obviously a very unique situation, and Fereti has been really open with us over the last year with his feelings towards his rugby and his faith. From, “Rebels prop Sa'aga retires from professional rugby.”

Please note: Spectrum news round-ups are an aggregation of regional, national, and international publications around the world that have reported on stories about Adventists. As such, the accuracy of the information is the responsibility of the original publishers, which are noted and hyperlinked at the end of each excerpt.

Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7-12 librarian. She lives in Yucaipa, California.

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A “Coronavirus-killing” air filtration system. Really! Just like the one those Phoenix megachurch pastors got before Trump’s visit to their flock. It’s a Christmas miracle! Or better yet, a long drink of Kool-Aid on a hot Tennessee summer afternoon :wink: In fact, it’s so effective Phoenix’s COVID-19 numbers are shooting through the roof.


let’s hope it works…but it does sound a bit like what those phoenix pastors were announcing, which even the manufacturers distanced themselves from:

it’s hard to see how SAU could have been working on a system to kill covid in 2015…


I guess the fancy air filtration systems can’t hurt anything, but I sure wouldn’t rely on them!


i haven’t heard whether SAU is actually planning to open in the fall…i would think they’d wait a bit…it seems like the entire south in the U.S. is now being hit by out of control covid…

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They’re reopening campus for fall classes on August 24. There’s a video on their website promoting it.

They wouldn’t spend $500K on filters if they weren’t going full speed ahead on reopening, whether it actually makes any sense to do so or not.


i’m sensing the possibility of disaster…i wonder if the kids who attend will be required to sign any kind of waiver absolving the school from any responsibility if they get sick, like the trump rally attendees did in tulsa…

most universities here in canada, where covid is much more controlled, are offering only online courses in the fall…

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Indeed, they are. Here is the latest report out of Chattanooga/Hamilton County (where Southern is located), which has hit #2 on the New York Times list of highest average growth rates of deaths in the country:

Sadly, it is the reliance on this sort of pseudo-science or anti-science that has contributed to the exponential spread in the South. In the case of the “Coronavirus-killing” air filtration system, respiratory droplets leave the mouth of a potentially infected person, are sucked up into a room’s filtration system and neutralized, before then returning JFK “magic bullet” style to the mouth and nose of a person standing some feet away. The reports that this is a COVID-19-killing system were so overblown that the company that manufactures the system ran from the claims (as you have noted), and the pastors who recorded the video took it down from their website. Southern really needs to retract this piece and ask for their half-a-million dollars back.


i can’t understand this push to open…if worse came to worst, and a kid graduated at 23 or even 24, instead of 22, but were alive and well enough to tell the story, why isn’t this enough…and even if the kids end up being OK, for the most part, what about the profs…and what about parents and grandparents at home…

even if masks are worn, nobody can keep that up for several back to back 50 min classes, let alone a 3 hr lab…it’s best to go online, and hope for a vaccine by xmas…i hope SAU reconsiders…

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Doesn’t SAU have better things to do with $500,000 than throw it away on a fraudulent scheme that is unscientific, unproven, and very expensive? Why are SDA conservative bastions of “higher learning” so susceptible to false science? The gullibility of many on the right seems to have deeper roots even than this. That may be because at the most basic level, conservatives and liberals seem to hold different beliefs about what constitutes “truth.”
SDA hyper conservatives are less introspective, less attentive to their inner feelings, and less likely to override their “gut” reactions and engage in further reflection to find a correct answer. As a result, they may be more likely to rely on error-prone cognitive shortcuts, less aware of their own unconscious biases, and less likely to respond to factual corrections to previously held beliefs. SDA hyper conservative preferences for information that fits in with their pre-existing ideology provide only a partial explanation. Faulty reasoning and judgment, leading to a $500,000 mistake are the result.

How many delicious “Little Debbies” cakes could have been purchased with $500,000?

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Not a stretch to imagine them using the tech for air quality improvement since then.

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