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Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality Assessment

As we have committed to you and your family throughout our response to COVID-19, the health and wellness of our school communities is paramount.

To ensure school buildings are prepared for a return to in-person instruction, we worked  to ensure every classroom has a working window or a mechanical ventilation system  to dilute air particles that may have viruses or bacteria and allow old air to move out of the classroom. 

We also hired independent state-certified environmental specialists to conduct indoor air quality assessments.


Ventilation Assessment

Every classroom will have a functioning ventilation system. Any classroom that does not have a functional ventilation system will be repaired before students and staff can return.

For a classroom to be ready for students and staff, it must have either: 

  • An operating mechanical ventilation system including both an air supply and exhaust; or
  • At least one operating window and a HEPA air purifier, which the district is providing for all classrooms as part of an $8.5 million investment.

Based on the district’s assessment, over 99 percent of classrooms are ready for students and staff. Classrooms that are out of compliance will be prioritized for repair and taken out of service until repairs are complete. Many school bathrooms have only an exhaust fan ventilation and no operable windows due to privacy and safety constraints. The exhaust fan is designed to dilute the room air by drawing in air from the hallway or adjoining room, and it is considered an appropriate design for these areas.

As part of the audit, some rooms identified as "spaces not intended for occupancy" such as utility closets or storage rooms have been removed from the list.

While ventilation is essential to our school re-opening plan, it is only one part of our comprehensive strategy for safely reopening schools that is aligned to CDC’s guidelines.

CDC’s five key mitigation strategies for safely reopening schools:

  • Consistent and correct use of masks
  • Social distancing to the largest extent possible
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Contact tracing in collaboration with local health department

Indoor Air Quality Report

Independent industrial hygienists tested every school’s indoor air quality to ensure it meets the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) COVID-19 guidelines for school buildings (Standard 55 and 62.1) The indoor air quality report looked at the following for values:

  • Temperature – Aligned to ASHRAE Standard 55 for thermal comfort range for the heating season (68 - 78 °F).
  • Relative Humidity - The indoor relative humidity value aligns to ASHRAE Standard 55 and 62.1 which recommends maintaining relative humidity below approximately 65% to reduce the potential for microbial growth and thermal comfort.
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) – Aligned to the EPA outdoor limit as well as the ASHRAE Standard 62.1 of 9 ppm.
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – CO2 is produced by occupants during respiration and is an indicator of the adequacy of outdoor (“fresh”) air in a building. The CO2 readings were compared to the ASHRAE Standard 62.1, which is 700 parts per million (PPM) above the outdoor CO2 concentration.
  • Airborne Particulate Matter (APM) - This value verifies that the filters in the mechanical system are operating as designed. The indoor APM readings were compared to the EPA outdoor limit as well as the ASHRAE 62.1 Standard of <0.035 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3).

The independent state-certified environmental specialists determined that all schools are acceptable for re-occupancy. Any space that did not have adequate ventilation will be addressed before it is used again by students. A detailed indoor air quality report for your child’s school is available below.