Fresh Air Ventilation Added to CDC’s Recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently added a new caveat to their guidelines for reopening schools. The organization added fresh air ventilation as a recommendation and key component of maintaining a healthy indoor environment.
The organization’s website states:
“Good ventilation is another step that can reduce the number of virus particles in the air. Along with other preventive actions, ventilation can reduce the likelihood of spreading disease. Below are ways you can improve ventilation in your school or childcare program, whether in a large building or in a home.”
Reducing the proliferation of airborne contaminants like viruses and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can provide benefits after the pandemic like reducing absences and improving productivity. Just like getting enough sleep and eating the proper foods impact us, breathing in Healthy Air also impacts how we feel.
Some Schools Do Not Track Ventilation
As schools prepare to reopen, some in Kansas are starting from the very beginning. The Topeka Capital-Journal writes, “no one tracks ventilation in Kansas schools, let alone whether the buildings make changes to hit targets set by engineers and public health experts for pandemic safety.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, the newspaper says districts poured money into cleaning supplies. Now they have a wealth of ionizers and other surface cleaners, and a dearth of Healthy Air products like fresh air ventilation systems. Some are unable to even open their windows.
The Kansas Board of Education, according to the Capital-Journal, does suggest that schools target HVAC upgrades to improve the air quality inside schools, but it does not require schools to follow its suggestions. Like many other schools throughout the country, Kansas schools are also spending money to help get students caught up academically through summer school programs and help them deal and help them deal with the emotional, mental, and social burden of the pandemic by beefing up counseling services.
“Don’t spend your first dollar upgrading your HVAC,” Director of School Finance for the Kansas State Department of Education Craig Neuenswander, recommends. “Let’s look at some of the needs that your students are going to have coming out of the pandemic, and address those first.”
Schools Balance HVAC Upgrades with Other Needs
To help balance their budget with those immediate student needs and HVAC upgrades, some schools are using money from the American Rescue Plan stimulus signed into law by President Joe Biden.
According to the Daily Democrat, Woodland School District Superintendent Tom Pritchard said the district ordered air purifiers, upgraded air filters to MERV 13, and opened up vents in some district campuses with their stimulus money.
For students in Pennsylvania’s Bethlehem Area School District, the school is spending close to $50 million to upgrade its HVAC units throughout several schools. According to this Lehigh Valley Live article, District Chief Financial Officer Stacy M. Gober said the administration identified the HVAC replacements as perfect one-time expenses that directly benefit students. Since ventilation plays a crucial role in the spread of the coronavirus, the upgrades are eligible expenses.
Fresh Air Ventilation is Needed for Schools
Fresh air ventilation and other Indoor Air Quality products are essential in getting students back into the classroom, along with academic resources.
For more information on the ongoing air quality crisis facing schools, continue to follow the Aprilaire blog.