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Update on HCPSS Measures for Enhancing Air Quality in School Buildings, August 26, 2021

August 26th, 2021

Please also see What schools don’t have MERV 13 air filters and what is being done to ensure safe indoor air quality?

HCPSS is committed to ensuring a safe learning environment for all students and staff. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, HCPSS has relied on the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and other agencies in implementing measures to maximize air quality and other aspects of a healthy building environment.

Several concerns have been raised by families related to HEPA fan/filtration units, air circulation, and other items related to the health of air in our schools. This update provides a comprehensive overview of the measures in place and to provide families and staff the assurance that HCPSS has deployed a combination of strategies consistent with the most current CDC guidance for ventilation in buildings. The CDC also recommends auxiliary air cleaning in higher risk settings and in areas where outdoor ventilation is not available. In addition, in guidance issued for parents this week, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health states that if schools are unable “to meet updated COVID filtration guidance (including MERV-13 filters and 6 air changes per hour), urge them to add individual HEPA filtration units to their classrooms.”

HCPSS has implemented a combination of measures to improve building ventilation at each school, including portable HEPA fan/filtration units to provide auxiliary air cleaning in each school’s COVID isolation room, and in portable classrooms where outdoor air is not introduced through the HVAC unit. The HVAC units serving all student-occupied areas of HCPSS school buildings and all other portable classrooms provide outdoor air ventilation. In addition, HCPSS has additional portable HEPA fan/filtration units on order to deploy as necessary, however, all spaces that currently require one due to inability to meet ventilation guidelines are fully equipped with portable HEPA fan/filtration units.

Specifically, the following improvements to building ventilation have been implemented at all HCPSS schools: