Ensuring classroom air safety is more critical than ever this year–and every school year in the foreseeable future. As we prepare for a return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year, discussions continue to focus on how schools will keep students and faculty safe 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 beyond student and faculty, infecting both vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. This is a permanent challenge for school districts–one that requires proven, long-term, cost-effective solutions. Just cracking the classroom window or increasing the HVAC airflow in schools won’t cut it.
There are three primary air purifying solutions on the market today, 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 vendor is as transparent as they should be about their true effectiveness and actual testing results. Some use overblown claims, putting educators and students at risk. Lean into that old adage “knowledge is power,” and research the basics of each technology before committing.
HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning)
Most schools have HVAC systems, whether centralized or one for each classroom, which range from new to very old. These systems provide air circulation throughout the building, often pulling in fresh air from outside. HVAC systems may potentially move virus-infected air out of a room more quickly; however, the air may spread into adjacent rooms before exiting the building. This bad, infected air may also travel across the breathing space of others before it gets to a vent in the wall or ceiling.
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