Answer by Jon Saxton, Former Superintendent, Chillicothe City School District

Given that the transmission of COVID-19 through the air is sufficiently likely, changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures. The following precautions are what we advise districts to implement for their HVAC units in order to limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • HVAC Inspection and Maintenance: Consider assessing the condition of systems and making necessary repairs. All building owners and service professionals should follow ASHRAE Standard 180-2018 “Standard Practice for the Inspection and Maintenance of Commercial HVAC Systems.”
  • Ventilation: A good supply of outside air, in accordance with ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2019, to dilute indoor contaminants is a first line of defense against aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Pre- and post-occupancy purge cycles are recommended to flush the building with clean air.
  • Filtration: Use of at least MERV-13 rated filters is recommended if it does not adversely impact system operation. If MERV-13 filters cannot be used, including when there is no mechanical ventilation of a space, portable HEPA air cleaners in occupied spaces may be considered.
  • Air Cleaning: Air cleaners such as germicidal ultraviolet air disinfection devices may also be considered to supplement ventilation and filtration. Technologies and specific equipment should be evaluated to ensure they will effectively clean space air without generating additional contaminants or negatively impacting space
    air distribution.

The attached documents will provide more guidance for these precautions.

Ask our panel of K-12 leaders any questions you have regarding K–12 facilities and maintenance management.