Schools need to be ready. With tens of thousands of students already back in classrooms and millions more going back over the next few weeks, cities around the country are scrambling to do protect students and staff.
From kindergarten to college, there are approximately 80 million students in the United States. That’s nearly a quarter of the entire population of the country and includes millions of kids who could be considered at-risk due to underlying health conditions. Pressure from federal and state officials has ironically caused a delay and a rush in the decision-making process to go back to school.
The delay has come as school boards in every state have waited in vain for specific guidance and additional funding to pay for the overwhelming costs of offering staff personal protective equipment. With no national standard, only empty grandstanding, they kept reopening plans flexible for as long as possible. Now, it’s a rush to tie up loose ends.
One of the most critical elements to safely reopening not only schools but all facilities is air purification. Experts have established that the COVID-19 pathogen is almost certainly aerosolized, which means it can be spread through air systems, possibly expanding transmission throughout entire buildings. HEPA filters are helpful, but at .001 microns, the coronavirus is smaller than those filters can effectively manage.
There have been creative solutions, but none that will offer long-term effectiveness. Schools are hoping to hold classes outside this fall, but as cold weather returns and heating systems flick on, that won’t be an option for long in most parts of the country. Experts are concerned about dated HVAC systems in New York City, where 700,000 students will be in-person in just a few weeks.
Even schools that know how crucial a role air purification will play are struggling to implement the technology as budgets are squeezed and revenue forecasts tumble. Some schools have slowed or even stopped installation projects, including one district in Florida, one of the hardest-hit regions of the nation.
Luckily, many school boards have understood that they may need more time. Even in our hometown of Traverse City, officials have decided to begin the school year online, opting to push back face-to-face learning two weeks. That’s time for students and staff to learn how to access online learning resources, but also gives facilities time to make the vital HVAC upgrades needed to keep everyone safe.
If we can help you prepare for fall 2020, let’s get started. We’re working around the clock to help schools and businesses restart and reopen as safely as possible.