What we’ve learned about COVID in schools is good advice for homeowners, too

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There aren’t many silver linings when it comes to COVID-19.

And we certainly don’t want to make light of this terrible virus and all of the pain it has caused this country. However, we are thrilled that COVID has started to shine a light on how important it is to have healthy, clean indoor air.

A recent NPR article (“Better air in classrooms matters beyond COVID”) made many good points about how indoor air quality affects all of our health, particularly in schools and for our students. But no need to sift through the entire article. Here are some of the highlights we’ve pulled out for you:

  • COVID-19 and other virus particles can build up and linger in indoor air, particularly in environments where filtration and ventilation aren’t great.
  • One study of Georgia schools linked improved ventilation strategies, combined with HEPA filtration, to a 48% lower rate of COVID.
  • The Biden administration’s new National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan highlights the need to help schools upgrade their ventilation systems for the long term, using funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
  • When a room is better ventilated, influenza rates, asthma attacks and absenteeism go down, reading and math test scores go up. Less carbon dioxide builds up in a room, which helps students think more clearly.
  • Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard University, says “…an investment right now is not just a short-term investment for COVID. If a school does this right, they can expect not only years, but decades of benefits to health beyond reductions in infectious disease transmission.”
  • The CDC’s best advice for schools, office buildings, and even homes boils down to 3 key tenants: increasing the amount of outdoor air in a classroom; using higher-efficiency MERV filters in HVAC systems; and supplementing these measures with portable air cleaners with HEPA filters.

All of this could add up to good news for our nation’s students if schools take advantage of funding to improve indoor air quality. But, don’t forget that homeowners can take action, too. We recommend that you use high-efficiency filters in your furnace at home, use portable air cleaners where appropriate, and most importantly get your ductwork cleaned. Without clean ductwork, you still run a higher risk of spreading viruses and other unhealthy particles through your air. And although duct cleaning cannot eliminate all the bad things floating in your air, it can and does go a long way towards getting rid of most of it.

If you can improve the odds that your family will stay healthy, why wouldn’t you?

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