In May, researchers from Johns Hopkins released a report analyzing the impact COVID-19 has had on K – 12 schools throughout the country. It’s disrupted education, forcing classes to go online or offer a hybrid approach to learning during the 2020–21 school year to protect students and staff. Now, with most schools back to in-person learning for the 2021-22 year ahead, the virus has also highlighted a critical issue: Many of our public school buildings have poor ventilation, resulting in diminished indoor air quality and, in turn, decreased learning outcomes.
The more we know about the virus, the more public health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are recommending taking a layered approach to combat it. This includes improving ventilation, particularly in buildings like schools where the risk of transmitting the virus is high. The report concludes that making ventilation improvements through proven indoor air quality technologies, such as HEPA filtration systems or ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, should be a top priority and is “a cost-effective public health measure” compared to enhanced cleaning procedures.
Moreover, school districts can use flexible funds from the American Rescue Plan to make these improvements and help keep students, teachers, and families safe from both the COVID-19 virus and future respiratory illnesses.