The COVID-19 Pandemic is now inescapable. SO, How IAQ affects schools has never been more important to understand. With in person classroom education in the United States completely shut down, a shift to online learning is underway. Teachers and admin staff are all working from home. However, facility managers, engineers and custodians mostly are all still working to maintain their buildings.
Indoor air and environmental quality have been thrust to the forefront of operations. Poor IAQ affects schools on a daily basis, as this article outlines, but those underlying conditions also contribute to a virus’s viability to thrive in the built environment. This is something to keep in mind in conjunction with the points made below. If fact, with education facilities being closed there has never been a better time to address many of these conditions.
We know that poor air quality impacts the health of office workers, but we don’t often think about how it impacts schools. The same loss of productivity, low morale, and absenteeism also occurs in classrooms. The presence of allergens, VOCs, mold, and other airborne particles, combined with moisture and poor ventilation and air circulation, is a concern for educators, administrators, and building engineers.
Impacts on Students and Staff
Poor IAQ affects schools students and faculty in several ways. All are detrimental to learning.
1. Compromised Academic Performance
Poor air quality not only affects the respiratory system but brain functioning as well. Studies have found that pollution impairs cognitive functioning which in turn leads to lower grades and test scores.
2. Increased Absenteeism
The presence of allergens in the air can make students ill. Asthma, the most common chronic ailment affecting children, can be triggered by allergic reactions and can lead to missed school days. A well-managed IAQ plan identifies and reduces allergens to limit absenteeism.
3. Fatigue & Distractedness
Teachers and students feeling both mentally and physically fatigued is another way poor IAQ affects schools. This makes it harder for them to maintain focus throughout the day and learning is impacted as a result.
4. Behavioral Problems
Along with the loss of focus brought on by fatigue comes an increase in behavioral issues. When children can’t concentrate on their school work they act out in other more disruptive ways. This affects, not only their own learning but the learning of their fellow students as well.
5. Increased Headaches
Headaches are yet another symptom of poor air quality. Suffering through lessons with a headache makes learning and teaching more difficult.
6. Low Morale
All of the above factors where IAQ affects schools lead to low morale. When students dread going to school because it makes them feel sick, the result is more missed days.
Creating a Healthier Learning Environment
Understanding what causes low morale, poor testing and grades, and increased absences is the first step. The second step is addressing these issues.
1. Use Green Products
Using products containing little or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) limits the amount of these particles that get released into the air. Green products are a good choice for cleaning as they are more environmentally friendly and contain fewer VOCs.
2. Schedule Regular HVAC Systems Inspection
Regular inspections are necessary to keep systems running their best. It ensures that coils get cleaned on AHUs, filters get replaced as needed, and drain pans function properly.
3. Reduce Excess Noise
Noisy ventilation systems are a disruption to classroom learning. If a teacher turns the system off to limit the distraction the result might be a quieter setting, but also poorer ventilation. An HVAC New Life ECM Fan Array Retro Fit significantly decreases noise levels during peak operation so learning isn’t interrupted.
4. HVAC Performance Assessment
Conducting an HVAC Performance Assessment is a good way to determine how IAQ affects schools and what improvements need to be made to optimize the environment. This has the added benefit of energy savings as well.
5. Maintain Proper Ventilation Rates
Ventilation rates need to be in line with recommended levels so carbon dioxide exposure can be reduced. Carbon dioxide sensors in the classroom alerts teachers to high levels so windows can be opened to increase air circulation.
6. Inform Staff and Students
Posting signs is an effective way to inform staff and students not to place any objects (books, backpacks, stacks of paper, et cetera.) on top of HVAC units or in front of vents.
Good IAQ Affects Schools for the Better
Many schools in the United States are old and in poor condition. As a result, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems may not be up to standard. High moisture levels, mold, and the presence of VOCs and other airborne particles leads to poor air quality in these outdated buildings. Addressing these issues by updating equipment and scheduling regular inspections, cleaning, and maintenance ensures a healthier environment for students to learn and thrive in.
We Help Schools Just Like Yours
Education continues to be one of our top priorities. We have engineered solutions to disinfect schools during the current pandemic. To make that easier we have cooperative purchasing contracts for you to invoke to start immediately.
Make the health and well-being of students and staff a priority and improve the indoor air quality on your campus. Contact Pure Air Control Services. We are an IAQ and HVAC system-focused company in operation since 1984. Our Building Sciences services include a building health check to evaluate IAQ conditions and Building Remediation Sciences can fully clean and restore the HVAC system for pennies on the dollar when compared to replacement. Schedule a consultation today!
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