Creating Healthier Schools by Monitoring IAQ

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July 14, 2021

As the summer months roll on, some teachers and parents have back to school on their minds. Earlier this year, there were a mix of K-12 classroom dynamics as the vaccine was being distributed across states. Many schools reopened in some capacity, but others were in a completely remote or hybrid format. Now, as younger age groups are waiting for the “green light” for the vaccine, school officials are faced with classroom health and safety questions.

To mitigate the uncertainty with transitioning to in-person classes, administrators can deploy indoor air quality (IAQ) monitoring systems. Our Awair for Schools solution provides real-time data to keep classrooms healthy. Through understanding what’s in the school’s air, parents and teachers are given peace of mind that their campus is following the proper safety protocols. If there is a need for improvement with IAQ, Awair shows users how effortless and inexpensive it is to fix the issue. In fact, the answer can be as simple as quickly opening a door or a window. 

During your planning for the Fall 2021, check our recent blogs focused on IAQ and schools. We’ll teach you about the growing IAQ problems in U.S. Schools, reducing school absences, and making a sustainable plan. Our goal is to equip you with the information you need to make informed decisions. At the end of the day, keeping track of air quality factors, such as temperature, humidity, CO2, TVOCs, and PM2.5, can help to respond to any school reopening questions that may come from stakeholder groups, including as parents and guardians.

Securing Indoor Air Quality 

Are you aware that children are particularly vulnerable to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) due to their higher breathing rates? Inhaling pollutants can result in lethargy, headache, dry and itchy skin, nasal stuffiness and dryness, sore throat, and pain and/or itching in the eye. To ensure a sustainable indoor air quality preventative maintenance plan, there are four steps for school districts to take: making the case, developing the plan, establishing a dedicated team, continuously evaluating IAQ, and sharing data and insights with building occupants.  

Absences Linked to Asthma  

Children spend an average of seven hours a day in school, not including before or after school activities. Without a doubt, removing the cause of asthma flare ups in schools will reduce school absences related to this condition. To alleviate asthma symptoms, school administrators can promote an asthma-friendly learning environment. Awair Omni, for instance, will alert users when asthma triggers like CO2, PM2.5, or VOCs are present. From there, immediate and long-term IAQ concerns can be addressed to improve the respiratory health of children. 

How-To Improve Classroom Air 

Even before the pandemic, the norm in a large number of schools was older buildings, unhealthy air quality, pest issues, and mold. Moisture in schools can often result from scheduled maintenance activities during school breaks, such as painting or carpet cleaning. With children, staff, or teachers who have allergy or respiratory problems, mold can lead to a number of adverse side effects. The key to combating mold in schools is to find out how often the school cleans its vents and suggest that the districts begin monitoring IAQ regularly. 

The Importance of Ventilation  

CDC guidelines during COVID-19 highlighted the need for proper ventilation in schools. In addition to an HVAC maintenance plan, air quality monitoring equipment can help administrators understand how to keep temperature and humidity under control since the infection rate of viruses is significantly reduced at room temperature (compared to colder temperatures). Gearing up for the fall and flu season requires thoughtful planning and a willingness to install always-on air quality monitoring equipment to manage the air. 

Enhancing Air Safety This Fall 

As the countdown continues to the first day of classes, you can advocate for a healthy indoor air environment. Awair Omni is available as an enterprise option for school districts or facility managers who want to ensure HVAC systems are functioning effectively and promoting safe IAQ. With Awair Dashboard, it’s easy to see trends over time along with device management throughout your space. Alternatively, for an entry-level solution, administrators have the option to begin with Awair Element to monitor individual classrooms or spaces in a building.