Whitepaper Offers Roadmap for a Cleaner School Environment
Did you know asthma, as one of the leading causes of school absenteeism, results in nearly 14 million missed school days annually? Did you know several studies demonstrate how improvements in a school’s indoor air quality — either from increased outdoor air ventilation rates or from the removal of pollution sources — can result in improved performance of children and adults?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a multidisciplinary expert panel found higher ventilation rates reduce the transmission and spread of infectious agents in buildings after reviewing 40 studies conducted between 1960 and 2005. Yet additional ventilation with outdoor air may not be possible without compromising indoor comfort because of temperature or humidity, high air pollution or the prohibitive cost of reconfiguring a school’s heating, air conditioning and ventilation system.
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund, a relief package that provided nearly $190.5 billion through three separate stimulus bills, could help schools address those issues and more. ESSER was passed to address the impact that COVID-19 has on schools across the United States. The fund, which expires September 30, 2022, also gives schools the opportunity to make facility updates that can address issues such as indoor air quality.
OpenWorks offers a new back-to-school whitepaper entitled “Putting ESSER Funds to Good Use: 5 Ways to Create Cleaner Environments for Students and Teachers While Returning Back to School.” The whitepaper is authored by Edward Pim, vice president of operations and experience at OpenWorks.
Through this whitepaper, Pim recommends school operations zero in on five key areas of focus regarding regular cleaning and disinfection, deep cleaning, periodic disinfection, long-lasting surface protection and indoor air quality when determining how to use federal money available through ESSER. By zeroing in on these five areas schools can take the best step forward that’s attainable for the long haul. By strategically budgeting for each of these categories, schools can minimize disruptions by ensuring all necessary measures are taken to prevent the spread of illness and restore a safe environment quickly if an outbreak were to occur.
Specifically, OpenWorks’ Pim recommends schools take these four additional steps in addition to addressing indoor air quality:
· Establish a routine for regular cleaning and disinfection;
· Complete periodic deep cleaning;
· Conduct periodic disinfections as a prevention strategy and as an emergency response;
· Apply products that can provide long-lasting surfaceprotection with technology that offers 360-degree coverage.
The whitepaper also recommends steps for getting leadership buy-in for launching a program and maintaining it for years to come. A committee of experts from diverse areas of the school could act as advisors. Industry experts can offer insights into often overlooked areas, deep-cleaning and disinfection frequency, air filter changes and general guidelines on best practices. And since faculty, staff and students can play a critical role in a facilities management program, the white paper recommends their education about the new cleaning and disinfection practices should be a priority.
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