New HEPA air filters for local schools for fall classes: Lecce

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Ontario is improving air quality in Hastings and Prince Edward classrooms and across the province for the fall return of classroom learning by installing 20,000 new Blade Air self-contained air filters for reduce the spread of COVID-19 variants.

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Education minister Stephen Lecce said in a Thornhill virtual ad on Wednesday that the province is spending $ 25 million to purchase the high efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) as an “extra layer of protection” in plus existing air exchange units in schools.

Proper air circulation and filtering are essential for ensuring the health of students who spend hours indoors with other students, teachers and support staff, he said.

“We think it will make a difference. Air quality improvements have been made or are underway in Ontario school boards, including more than 2,000 projects in more than 1,670 schools and co-located daycares, ”Lecce told reporters.

The new HEPA units “can improve air quality where there are air quality issues in our schools. The additional funding announced today, combined with our past investment, will ensure that all busy learning environments, including classrooms and gymnasiums, libraries, day care rooms, laptops and other teaching spaces without mechanical ventilation, will now have a self-contained filter placed inside when students return this fall. “

In addition, school boards will need to update the regular maintenance of existing ventilation systems and use the highest quality filters for optimal air quality.

“Where possible, we ask them to change filters more often, their operating systems two hours before and two hours after and recalibrate their HVAC systems to maximize airflow and fresh air intake. “Lecce said.

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In Kindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms where students won’t be required to wear masks, HEPA filters will work in addition to mechanical ventilation to ensure good health.

“With the release of School Health and Safety Measures yesterday, students have a safe path to return to a more normal learning environment, both in-person and full-time, which is critical to their mental and physical health. “said Lecce.

“We are following the best expert advice in ensuring all schools have improved ventilation, including deploying 20,000 additional HEPA units, totaling over 70,000 ventilation devices, to help ensure schools stay as safe as possible. With the work we have done, I have no doubts that we will ensure the safety of students and staff in our schools as we reopen for the 2021-22 school year. “

The Ontario Scientific Advisory Table, as part of its scientific brief on school-based measurements, identified the use of stand-alone HEPA filter units as a strategy for classrooms and spaces having difficulty obtaining adequate ventilation.

Approximately 20,000 stand-alone HEPA filtration units have been purchased through the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and will be deployed to school boards as needed. The remaining funding will be allocated to school boards to purchase additional stand-alone HEPA filter units.

To help students, parents and staff access information about school ventilation in their communities, Ontario will also provide school boards with a standardized ventilation improvement reporting tool, the government said.

“This tool will communicate school-level ventilation metrics online to ensure information is publicly available across the province, including inspection, use of stand-alone HEPA filter units, use of filters of higher quality and more frequent filter changes. “


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