The start of the 2021/2022 school year has arrived and students are heading back to full capacity, in-person classrooms. In anticipation of the return to face-to-face learning, school administrators and facilities staff have been working hard and smart to prepare a healthy environment for students, teachers, and staff.
The strategies and actions that schools have undertaken to prepare a safe learning environment often depend upon their location, weather pattern, and other site-specific criteria. There are, however, several common essentials, such as:
- Assessing the HVAC system for condition and operating parameters.
- Evaluating a building’s indoor air quality (IAQ) and using the results to create an HVAC operations plan to ensure optimal IAQ.
- Establishing or adjusting the system maintenance plan to be prepared for changing COVID-19 trends.
- Installing and/or designing an indoor environment monitoring system that can be fine-tuned in real time through remote connectivity.
Other more innovative tactics are also being employed, such as:
- Use of thermal imaging technology to identify individuals with elevated temperature, thus improving the school’s ability to reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreaks.
- Use of emerging technologies to address potential risks from microbes on surfaces and in the air. For example, the Synexis® free-standing antimicrobial systems for individual rooms and units that can be integrated with the HVAC system.
Many states have grant programs dedicated to helping school districts provide healthy indoor environments for their students in light of COVID-19 safety concerns. One similar federal program is the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program which provides billions in funding for state and local educational agencies to use on allowable activities to respond to COVID-19. Learn more about ESSER funds here.
Parent Peace of Mind
Whatever your strategy is for maintaining a healthy school environment, sharing that information with parents can help alleviate any fears they may have about the safety of their child’s school. Some ways in which you can share such information include:
- Send fact sheets home with students, or send emails to parents, that describe the strategies, initiatives, and achievements at their child’s school.
- Create a dedicated space on the school’s website for regular updates about the environmental monitoring being conducted, new initiatives being undertaken, and so forth.
- Share pictures of the facilities team in action.
- Use the school’s social media accounts to share this information.
These and other proactive communication methods will help students and parents understand what is being done to maintain a healthy learning environment at their school.
Brady Services is ready to help you with your healthy indoor environment efforts. From assessments and strategy to technology and monitoring, our experts will work with you to establish and maintain a healthy school.