Older schools in Ontario that lack central air systems will need air purification equipment in order to comply with the school reopening plan announced yesterday. The Ontario government announced additional funding of $25 million to further improve ventilation in schools as students return for in-person learning this fall. This additional funding, which brings the net new investments in school ventilation to $600 million, will ensure that all occupied classrooms, gyms, libraries and other instructional spaces without mechanical ventilation have standalone high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units in place when students are back in class, including Junior and Senior Kindergarten classrooms in mechanically ventilated schools to recognize that the youngest learners will not be wearing masks in the classroom.
Ontario’s Science Advisory Table, as part of its science brief on school-based measures, identified the use of standalone HEPA filter units as a strategy for classrooms and spaces with challenges in achieving adequate ventilation. Approximately 20,000 standalone HEPA filter units have been procured through the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and will be deployed to school boards where needed. Remaining funding will be allocated to school boards to procure additional standalone HEPA filter units.
Ontario will also provide school boards with a standardized reporting tool on ventilation improvements. This tool will communicate school-level ventilation measures online to ensure that information is publicly available across the province, including inspection, use of standalone HEPA filter units, use of higher grade filters and more frequent filter changes.