BVSD Indoor Air Quality Initiative
Episode 11, Jan. 4, 2021 : The Air We Breathe
Dr. Sam Messier talks about a new addition to the district's COVID-19 mitigation strategy -- HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) purifiers, which have been installed in every classroom. Sam talked with Dr. Richard Shaughnessy, a national expert on indoor air quality, and Molly McLoughlin BVSD's Director of Facilities, along with Enes Mesan and Lori Pinckney -- BVSD employees who spent their Winter break unpacking and installing the equipment.
In spring 2016, BVSD initiated a long-term project that we expect to have significant benefits for all schools in our district. We are partnering with the University of Tulsa Indoor Air Program and key personnel from the University of Colorado, with support from Harvard and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to engage in a study to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in BVSD schools.
The project will involve collecting baseline indoor air quality data from all schools which will be evaluated to make recommendations for changes to building operations and occupant behavior and to identify facility renovations to improve indoor air quality. This work will be guided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Tools for Schools Indoor Air Quality Program which recognizes that good indoor air quality is a combination of the performance of building systems and occupant behavior.
The timing of this project in conjunction with the bond-funded work in the Educational Facilities Master Plan (much of which will impact ventilation and indoor air quality) creates the opportunity to consider IAQ implications in designing projects and measure the effect of the renovation work on indoor environmental quality.
Air Quality Data Collection
The first step in this process involves school site baseline data collection. Trained personnel will conduct walk-through assessments to gather basic air quality measurements. These data will be used to identify what issues can be corrected through education and communication about building operations and occupant behavior (often with little or no cost) and those issues that may need to be prioritized for long-term funding. Using this data, an IAQ management plan will be drafted for each school. The project also will include outreach and training for BVSD staff regarding indoor air quality issues in schools.
Academic, Health and Attendance Data Collection
In addition to the walk-through assessments, academic achievement records and health symptom data also will be tracked based on standardized test scores and absenteeism/nurse-symptom data (information to be coded and not student identifiable). These data will be used as a baseline to compare to the same indicators post-renovation to discern improvements based on changes implemented. These records and information are essential to best gauge the positive impact of this work on student health and achievement.
Indoor Air Quality Team
The districtwide Indoor Air Quality Team was appointed by the BVSD Board of Education to work with the air quality consultants on this initiative. The purpose of the team is to disseminate air quality information, register air quality complaints and direct responses, and communicate air quality issues and status at district schools to school administration, staff, students and parents. The team includes 19 voluntary representative members of the BVSD community, including district staff, principals, teachers, parents and community members.
BVSD Indoor Air Quality Coordinator
Director of Facilities