ASHRAE releases reopening guide for schools

The ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has developed guidance on the operation of HVAC systems to help mitigate the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 disease) as US schools prepare to reopen for a new academic year.

ASHRAE’s position is that “transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of HVAC systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”

Accordingly, the 41-page presentation includes checklists to prepare educational buildings to resume occupancy, such as starting up HVAC systems as well as checks and verifications to maintain during the academic school year. The guidance is meant to provide practical information to school districts and university campus environmental health managers, facility managers, administrators, technicians and service providers.

“As schools prepare to reopen for the fall academic semester, it’s important to keep children and school staff safe,” says ASHRAE President Charles E. Gulledge III.

“ASHRAE’s school reopening guide will serve as a resource to school leaders as they work in lockstep with health experts to finalise plans to keep everyone safe.”

The guide includes the following topics:

  • Determining building readiness
  • Equipment and system-specific checks and verifications during the academic year
  • New/modified facility design recommendations
  • Filtration upgrades
  • Operations of occupied facilities
  • Controlling infection outbreak in school facilities
  • Higher education facilities recommendations.

Also included is guidance formulated to help designers retrofit and plan for the improvement of indoor air quality and to slow the transmission of viruses via the HVAC systems, as well as new guidance on student health facilities, laboratories, athletic facilities, residence halls, and large assemblies, lectures and theatres.

“School and university officials are challenged with making very difficult decisions on how to best protect both students and staff as education facilities reopen,” says Corey Metzger, ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force Schools Team lead.

“This guidance offers a solid framework on ventilation control, filtration and maintenance that can be applied to different climate zones, building types and HVAC systems.”

To read the guide, click here.

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