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Ontario Construction News staff writer
An additional $25 million – for a total of $600 million – was announced Wednesday for projects to improve ventilation in schools as students return for in-person learning this fall.
The goal is to ensure all occupied classrooms, gyms, libraries and other instructional spaces without mechanical ventilation have standalone high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units in place.
“We are following the best expert advice by ensuring all schools have improved air ventilation, including deploying an additional 20,000 HEPA units, in total over 70,000 ventilation devices, to help ensure schools remain as safe as possible. With the work we have done, I am confident we will keep students and staff safe in our schools as we reopen for the 2021-22 school year,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.
Ontario will also provide school boards with a standardized reporting tool on ventilation improvements, communicating school-level ventilation measures online across the province, including inspection, use of standalone HEPA filter units, use of higher grade filters and more frequent filter changes.
“There is benefit to improving ventilation in indoor settings to enhance both overall indoor air quality and COVID-19 risk reduction in schools. We must also continue to follow all other public health measures and I encourage everyone eligible to receive their vaccines to help avoid a resurgence of cases,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health.
In the 2020-21 school year, more than 50,000 air ventilation devices were purchased to keep Ontario classrooms safe.