Working to improve air quality in Valley schools

HARRISONBURG, Virginia (WHSV) — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is proposing to spend $500 million from the US state bailout plan to improve air quality in public schools.

In Harrisonburg, city schools had all of their HVAC systems evaluated and some of them renovated early in the pandemic. School officials say the proposed funding could help them keep updating their systems.

“We should take it one step at a time and look at every school and building,” said Craig Mackail, HCPS Chief Operating Officer. “It could involve some air handling systems, it could involve some filter systems, it could involve some front-end systems to improve that air quality and there’s always room to do that.”

Some of the improvements the schools have already made include outdoor education, air purifiers in classrooms, and lighting that improves air quality. “We have something like UVC lights in the ceilings, which is basically a unit that replaces a fluorescent tube lighting, and it sucks the air in and goes over a UVC light that disinfects the air and brings it back into the classroom,” said Mackail.

Mackail said he is confident in the school’s air quality, but staff are always looking to improve old systems when they can.

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