May 27, 2021 Federal Agencies Endorse Proven Virus Mitigation Strategies for Schools
Federal Agencies Endorse Proven Virus Mitigation Strategies for Schools
As schools nationwide ready to welcome students and faculty back to in-person learning many resources are available to help administrators make sure buildings are safe.
Below you find information discussing:
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HANDBOOK
The U.S. Department of Education has published a handbook for safely reopening schools that encourages improvements in facility ventilation practices. See the handbook here: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools.
To help put school air quality in perspective, 87 of 100 classrooms studied had ventilation rates below recommended minimum standards, according to a recent study from The LANCET COVID-19 Commission, “Designing infectious disease resilience into school buildings through improvements to ventilation and air.”
Ventilation, filtration and air cleaning are among five core recommendations from the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force to reduce infectious aerosols. The Society’s formal position reflects the importance of efficient building ventilation:
“Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is significant and should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”
Because the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be transmitted through the air, it must be presumed that HVAC systems can, inadvertently, broadcast a virus and amplify its spread.
When it comes to proper ventilation, the Department of Ed. handbook refers to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) Ventilation in Buildings that states:
- Consider using ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) as a supplemental treatment to inactivate SARS-CoV-2, especially if options for increasing room ventilation and filtration are limited.
- Upper-room UVGI can be used to provide air cleaning within occupied spaces, and in-duct UVGI systems can help enhance air cleaning inside central ventilation systems.
CDC K-12 SCHOOL REOPENING TOOLKIT
Separately, the CDC has developed a K-12 Schools COVID-19 Mitigation Toolkit designed to help school facility directors assess hazards and implement mitigation strategies to reduce the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
The Toolkit’s fourth checklist provides mitigation strategies regarding school ventilation that recommend “UVGI as a supplement to kill SARS-CoV-2.”
The Agency’s checklist #4 begins on page 14.
FEDERAL FUNDING TO IMPROVE SCHOOL IAQ
The U.S. government has approved more than $100 billion to help schools reopen. Two bills, CARES and CRRSA, have established a fund known as the “Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund” (ESSER) to help K–12 school districts reopen safely.
Funds provided through the ESSER Programs and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Programs can support improvements to ventilation. (Please see question B-7 of the U.S. Department of Education Uses of Funds for these programs.)
See the chart below to see how these funds are scheduled to be allocated. The authorizing federal legislation specifically permits the use of ESSER for “testing, repairing, and upgrading projects to improve air quality in school buildings.” These funds may be used for:
- HVAC systems
- Purification and other air cleaning
- Control systems
- Window and door repair and replacements
DOWNLOAD: WHY SCHOOLS NEED UV-C
Using ESSER funding for HVAC improvements is a great way for school districts to improve the air quality in their buildings to safeguard their students, staff and the community.
The National Conference of State Legislatures offers helpful resources when it comes to tracking educational funding.
If you visit the ESSER Tracker, you can view specific program details by state, such as:
- Specific funding amounts
- Application guidance (funding requests must be completed by local education agencies)
- Application form download
DISINFECTING THE AIR
As you know by now, germicidal UV-C enjoys decades of scientific efficacy and a proven track record of improving indoor air quality. Let us design a germicidal UV-C disinfection solution for your application: