Schools Already Were Health Danger Zones Before COVID. New Products and Techniques Could Reduce the Threat

The average student spends 15,600 hours inside a school by the time they graduate from high school, Harvard University estimates in a new report. Thus, it’s no surprise that building and maintaining healthy school buildings has generated lots of discussion as the COVID-19 pandemic rages. For one thing, in the same amount of floor space, schools have four times more occupants than occupants of office buildings, the EPA estimates.

But coronavirus is only one ingredient in a toxic stew of environmental dangers that includes mold, pests, radon, asbestos, lead paint, too much noise, and too little light. These issues not only affect learning, they help make kids sick: the CDC estimates America’s kids miss 13.8 million days of school each year because of childhood asthma. That makes selecting products and setting up systems especially important.

In Washington, the COO of KIPP, the District of Columbia’s biggest charter school network, is racing to make sure his buildings are, as he put it, “on lockdown related to virus” when school reopens this fall, The Washington Post reports. For instance, Dane Anderson plans to reprogram HVAC systems in one building so they’ll bring in more fresh air. In addition, UV-C lights may be installed inside air handlers to kill viruses.

“Every 10 minutes … we’d like the air to touch a filter, or get diluted, or start to hit an electronic,” says Raj Setty, an engineer advising KIPP. "Something to kill things in the air.” He also recommends installing sanitizing mats, making water faucets touchless, and finding ways to bring in more outside air.

To read the Post’s article, click here

To download the Harvard report, register here