The indoor air quality and HVAC in schools are crucial components for protecting students and teachers from COVID-19.
As students, teachers, and education staff return to school buildings, academic administrators and facilities managers are under extreme pressure to provide safe spaces and clean air with rapidly changing requirements.
Long before the pandemic, the education system was confronting air quality issues, with one-third of U.S. school districts needing significant HVAC system repair or replacement.
In-depth studies show that air quality is critical for health and strongly connected to student performance and well-being. With heightened attention to indoor air due to the pandemic, now may be the right time to consider other technologies that address current concerns and take on longstanding school ventilation improvement needs.
There is a vast range of complexity, flexibility, age, and condition of HVAC systems in educational facilities. Therefore, a qualified professional should evaluate all adjustments or enhancements to equipment to ensure that they will not negatively impact the building environment. Each school is different, and it may not be practical to implement some or all of the CDC and ASHRAE recommendations. School administrators should consider the guidance combined with cost, benefit, energy usage effect, maintenance, and other factors to determine the best approach for their schools.
The U.S. Department of Education encourages the use of American Rescue Plan funding to improve ventilation and indoor air quality in schools and it provides resources to support investment. Beyond the CDC and ASHRAE guidelines, the IAQ Tools for Schools program promotes ventilation best practices to improve IAQ in schools long term.
- Provide Quality HVAC – quality HVAC and planned maintenance ensure better air circulation and fewer pollutants.
- Conduct an HVAC Assessment – evaluate the conditions and proper operation of the entire system. Make sure everything is working as it should.
- Consider Ventilation Design and Upgrades – the EPA IAQ Design for Schools provides guidance on various aspects of school construction and renovation and includes a section on HVAC.
The EPA has a webinar series specifically dedicated to maintaining healthy learning environments.
Comprehensive system assessments can help bring students, teachers, and families peace of mind now that most schools have reopened. We provide school administrators and facilities managers with independent evidence of the efficacy of their systems, and we can also give them recommendations on how to improve their building operations.
Things have gotten complicated. Contact us if you have questions or need any assistance.