As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is likely that this historic event will act as an ongoing catalyst for parents, teachers, and administrators of K-12 schools to advocate for better Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and improved HVAC systems to reduce the transmission of COVID and other viral aerosols within student learning environments.
Although longer-term HVAC system upgrades and retrofits may ultimately be necessary to address parent, faculty, and administrator IAQ concerns, the following opportunities exist now to improve ventilation and IAQ within K-12 schools:
- Recommission existing HVAC equipment to correct operating deficiencies and to ensure systems are operating as designed.
- Conduct or update master plans to prioritize future ventilation upgrades.
- Incorporate ventilation upgrades into existing projects (e.g., add/upgrade filtration, increase outside air).
- Upgrade or modify HVAC controls to increase ventilation, including frequent flushing.
- Expedite replacement and upgrade of aged HVAC equipment.
Having been involved in K-12 schools since our firm’s inception in 2001, Elara’s dedicated K-12 design team has extensive knowledge and expertise to assist administrators and facility personnel to identify and pursue practical short-term and longer-term HVAC solutions to address COVID-19 IAQ and ventilation concerns.
Potential Federal Funding Available
To assist with the additional costs that K-12 schools incur to improve ventilation/IAQ, funding is available through the Federal government’s Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (Expanded CARES Act). Under this program, billions of dollars are available to public schools (based on size and need) for ventilation improvements to help support in-school learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government may expand the program in the coming months.