Covid-19 Transmission Mitigation and Ventilation Issues
Circulated: May 11, 2021
Ventilation is one component of maintaining healthy environments and is an important COVID-19 prevention strategy for schools and childcare programs. Good ventilation and proactive ventilation strategies are other steps that can reduce the number of virus particles in the air to protect the health of students, staff, and visitors.
Along with other preventive and mitigation actions, ventilation can reduce the likelihood of spreading disease now and into the future. The CDC considers It to be one of the more critical steps to assure that in-person learning can continue in the fall.
Here are the highlights of current CDC recommendations and guidance.
Bring in as much outdoor air as possible
- If safe to do so, open windows and doors. Even just cracking open a window or door helps increase outdoor airflow, which helps reduce the potential concentration of virus particles in the air. If it gets too cold or hot, adjust the thermostat. Do not open windows or doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk (such as falling, exposure to extreme temperatures, or triggering asthma symptoms).
- Use child-safe fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows. Safely secure fans in a window to blow potentially contaminated air out and pull new air in through other open windows and doors.
- Consider having activities, classes, and lunches outdoors when circumstances allow.
Filter and/or clean the air in your school or childcare program
- Improve the level of air filtration as much as possible without significantly reducing air flow.
- Make sure the filters are sized, installed, and replaced according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Consider portable air cleaners that use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters or portable, in-room UV-C air sanitizers to enhance air cleaning wherever possible, especially in higher-risk areas such as a nurse’s office or sick/isolation room.
- The advancement of technology has even provided products that combine HEPA filtration with UV-C sanitation to provide a near hospital-grade level of air quality protection.
- Consider using ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) in schools and non-home-based childcare programs as a supplemental treatment to inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19, especially if options for increasing ventilation and filtration are limited. Consult a qualified professional to help design and install any UVGI system.
Use exhaust fans in restrooms and kitchens
- Inspect and maintain exhaust ventilation systems in restrooms and kitchens.
- Ensure restroom and kitchen exhaust fans are on and operating at full capacity while the school or childcare program is occupied and for 2 hours afterward.
Open windows in transportation vehicles
- Ventilation is important on buses and vans servicing schools and childcare programs, along with other strategies such as mask use for people over 2 years old and physical distancing.
- Keep vehicle windows open when it does not create a safety or health hazard. Having more windows open is more helpful, but even just cracking a few windows open is better than keeping all windows closed.