Protecting Air Quality in Schools Today from Airborne Contaminants
When COVID hit, everything changed. Schools shut down along with most of the non-essential workplaces. At first, people were asked to wear masks because scientists believed that the virus was spread solely by droplets. Soon, however, it was discovered that SARS-CoV-2 is primarily spread through the air.
This prompted school administrators to look at the state of their current Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning systems (HVAC) systems to see if they were working properly and could handle this new risk to their students. Most were found to be unprepared for this new contaminant.
Unfortunately, currently the CDC is only recommending:
Opening outdoor windows and vents
Running the HVAC 2 hours before and after the buildings are closed for the day
Placing child-proof fans in windows
Turning your HVAC from auto to on so it runs all day
Air purification systems be placed inside each room to circulate air
Sounds good, right? Not really if…
Kids have outdoor allergies
The school is in an inner city, outside pollutants such as traffic exhaust will seep in
Natural disasters such as large forest fires with smoke and ash occur requiring all windows be closed (as seen in California, Washington, and Oregon)
Running an HVAC continually and before and after occupancy will greatly increase electric bills
A school maintenance team is not knowledgeable enough about how HVACs or air purification systems should work in a crisis
Placing fans or opening vents without knowing the air circulation patterns could increase the possibility of spreading disease
So, what’s the answer?
Bringing in a professional team that not only knows the ins and outs of HVAC and air purification systems but who also are educated on air flow patterns and the most recent studies on COVID is a must.
Doing an on-site review, their goal is to ensure the operations, facilities, and maintenance teams can easily monitor and maintain system improvements, delivering higher indoor air quality and occupant safety. The review would then be forwarded to the school board and recommendations would be given.
Their recommendations should include:
1. Air movement patterns within the breathing zone
2. Preferred mechanical systems
3. Proactive plan for maintenance and service
4. Ways to conduct air monitoring
5. How to fund the next steps
Is it Worth the Money?
It actually saves money. Consider how much electric bills will rise if only the minimum CDC guidelines are met. Consider more school closures due to outbreaks. Consider finding and funding substitute teachers and staff when someone needs to be temporarily replaced.
Cleaner air means lower utility bills, fewer absences (which increases daily attendance funds from the state), less disruption and peace of mind to staff, students and parents.
LifeWingsPP specializes in studying school campuses and providing knowledgeable assessments to aid school boards in reaching the highest level of protection for their students and staff. It defeats the invisible enemy and creates free breathing zones in buildings, reducing anxiety and allowing teachers to teach without fear.