How to ensure classroom air safety during COVID-19

Ensuring classroom air safety is more important than ever this year — and every school year for the foreseeable future. As we prepare for a return to personal learning for the 2021-2022 school year, discussions remain focused on how schools will protect students and educators from airborne COVID-19 and other viruses and pathogens.

The COVID-19 Delta variant and other numerous variants have the potential to cause localized outbreaks outside students and faculty, infecting both vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. This is an ongoing challenge for school districts – one that requires proven, long-term, cost-effective solutions. Just cracking the classroom window or increasing HVAC airflow in schools won’t cut it.

There are currently three primary air purification solutions on the market, each with many options within their categories: HVAC system upgrades, HEPA filtration systems and UVC germicidal lighting systems. Understanding the pros and cons of each technology can be overwhelming for educators and administrators looking for the best choice to protect their staff and students.

Unfortunately, not every supplier is as transparent as they should be about their true effectiveness and actual test results. Some use exaggerated claims, putting teachers and students at risk. Heed that old adage “knowledge is power” and research the basics of any technology before committing.

HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air conditioning)

Most schools have HVAC systems, whether centralized or one for each classroom, that range from new to very old. These systems provide air circulation throughout the building and often bring fresh air in from the outside. HVAC systems may be able to move virus-infected air out of a room more quickly; however, the air can spread to adjacent rooms before it leaves the building. This bad, contaminated air can also travel through the breathing space of others before it reaches a vent in the wall or ceiling.

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