Air-ventilation expert talks about what schools should consider with classes

Expect recommends schools install indoor air-quality sensors

Many parents are hoping in-person classes will be safe this fall. One ventilation expert said it begins with the air students breathe.

“Indoor air-quality issues have been in schools before COVID,” said Serene Al-Momen, adjunct professor at George Mason University.

Al-Momen said she has been studying the effects of air quality in schools most of her adult life.

“Over half of the schools around the country are in need of major system repairs,” she said.

Al-Momen said HVAC systems could be a real problem.

“Air quality is just so important for us to improve in schools, to make sure we’re removing the virus,” she said.

Some area school districts, such as Turner schools, have completely replaced their units districtwide because of a $ 44 million bond issue passed by voters in 2019.

Al-Momen said that to be safe, districts need to check or install exhaust fans in restrooms, eliminate units that just recycle the same air and make sure timers are set to run at the appropriate times.

She also suggested that schools install indoor air-quality sensors to better keep track of what’s flowing through the school.

“I urge parents and administrators to ask the question, ‘What are you doing about improving indoor air quality for the schools before the kids return to them?'” Al-Momen said.

Al-Momen said that schools need to look at how classrooms are now set up according to the school’s ventilation system, as well as where the teacher instructs in the classroom.

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