5 things to know about making classroom air healthier

UV-C has proven effective against a range of pathogens, including COVID, flu and strep
By: | April 13, 2021
UV-C -equipped ceiling panels neutralized 97% of airborne pathogens in a first-grade classroom in Pennsylvania.UV-C -equipped ceiling panels neutralized 97% of airborne pathogens in a first-grade classroom in Pennsylvania.

About 40% of school districts could use HVAC systems in at least half of their schools, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has estimated.

Since the beginning of the COVID, district leaders have been making HVAC and air-quality upgrades to provide healthier learning environments for staff and students.

The three waves of education stimulus funding provide yet more opportunities to retrofit ventilation systems to disinfect classrooms.

Here are some things to know about improving school air quality.

1. At Neff Elementary, part of Manheim Township School District in Pennsylvania, ceiling panels that prevent air leaks and contain ultraviolet air sanitizers were recently installed in a first-grade classroom to pilot the technology.

2. Ventilation in the classroom was improved by 30% as the UV-C panels neutralized 97% of airborne pathogens, according to Armstrong World Industries, the company that developed the purification system.

The ‘Vidashield’ panels pull air into the ceiling, where it is purified by UV-C light, and then recirculates it back in the classroom, says Anne P. Jennings, Armstrong’s senior manager for healthy spaces.

3. The UV-C is effective against a range of pathogens, including COVID, flu, strep, measles and tuberculosis. It was also found to eliminate bacteria and fungi that can cause problems for students with asthma and allergies.

4. Ventilation and UV-C technology are also being installed in school nurse’s offices to create “negative pressurize spaces.” In other words, the air is pulled into the nurse’s office from the rest of the school and then sent outside.

This blocks off potentially germ-laden air from being circulated from sick students back into the rest of the school.

5. To learn more about this technology, visit Armstrong’s healthy spaces education page.