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How Educational Facilities Are Tackling Coronavirus


By Dan Hounsell Educational Facilities
guy changing air filter

In many ways, education facilities – K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities – are serving as learning laboratories for facility managers in all types of facilities looking for strategies and tactics to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The monumental challenges managers face surfaced in Georgia, where hundreds of employees in the state’s largest school district recently either tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus, according to USA Today. Gwinnett County Public School teachers had gathered for in-person planning. The next day about 260 employees were “excluded from work” because of the coronavirus.

Managers also are getting the word out to returning students and other building occupants about measures their departments are taking to create safe workspaces, in particular about the emerging role of HVAC systems in controlling the spread of coronavirus.

At the University of Arkansas, occupants can read about measures its building services department is taking, including information on HVAC system operation:

“All HVAC systems have been operating 24/7 since early June to maintain stable control of indoor air conditions. The amount of outdoor or ventilation air brought into the buildings has been increased as much as practicable to increase indoor dilution and air changes.”

The University of Massachusetts Amherst posted an entire FAQ on HVAC operations related to COVID-19:

“Air handler units will maximize outside air into the system to flush the building two hours prior to occupancy and again for two hours after scheduled occupancy. Air handlers will increase air flow rates as much as possible during occupancy given equipment and ambient temperature and humidity conditions.”

Dan Hounsell is editor of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

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