A National Conversation on Indoor Air & K-12 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic
February 23, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has had catastrophic impacts on US children’s education. K-12 schools have had to compensate with ever-changing policies related to in-person schooling. Teachers and staff have struggled with limited guidance and resources for teaching safely. Children and their families have had to cope with disease risk and limited access to typical school functions including in-person learning, health resources, childcare and food security. Guidance and resources have since been made available to school administration for the prevention and mitigation of transmission, but ventilation in schools - an issue even prior to the pandemic - is often neglected in the provision of guidance and resources. This meeting explored next steps and priorities for the current administration to improve indoor air quality in schools during and after the pandemic.
View the webinar transcript (PDF).
View the agenda as a PDF.
2:00pm - 2:05pm
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Dr. Paula Olsiewski, Contributing Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
2:05pm - 2:45pm
Panel 1: The State of Ventilation in Schools and the Importance of Healthy Air During the Pandemic and Beyond
What is the current state of indoor air quality in US schools? Why is ventilation important in the fight against COVID-19? Why is there such low awareness regarding the importance of indoor air quality? What actions should be the nation’s top priorities in the short-term and the long-term to achieve the goal of healthy indoor air in schools? Will $100+ Billion in funding address these issues?
Moderator & Presenter: Dr. William Bahnfleth, Professor of Architectural Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
Presenter: Ms. Claire Barnett, Founder and Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network
Presenter: Dr. Richard Corsi, Dean of the Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science, Portland State University
2:45pm - 3:20pm
Panel 2: Technical Solutions to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Schools
Can portable HEPA air filters be used to improve indoor air quality? What is the potential role of carbon dioxide monitors in the classroom? How can HVAC upgrades improve indoor air quality? Why are energy efficient buildings not necessarily the best for indoor air quality? Why is there such a strong focus on hygiene products instead of ventilation solutions in schools? What actions should be the nation’s top priorities in the short-term and the long-term to achieve the goal of healthy indoor air in schools?
Moderator: Dr. Ana Rule, Assistant Professor of Environmental Health and Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Presenter: Dr. Brent Stephens, Department Chair and Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology
Presenter: Mr. Simon Turner, CEO, Building Cognition LLC
Presenter: Dr. Delphine Farmer, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Colorado State University
3:20pm - 3:55pm
Panel 3: Using Policy and Other Supportive Mechanisms to Implement Healthy Air in Schools
What are the roles of the federal, state and local governments? What are the roles of teachers, parents and other stakeholders? How can we ensure that investments lead to healthy indoor air and are sustained long-term? What accountability measures need to be in place? How can schools be supported in the implementation of policies in terms of the acquisition, use and upkeep of these new resources? What is the cost-benefit analysis of providing new resources for healthy indoor air? What actions should be the nation’s top priorities in the short-term and the long-term in order to achieve the goal of healthy indoor air in schools?
Moderator: Dr. Ken Bernard, Former Special Assistant to the US President for Biodefense and Former Assistant Surgeon General
Presenter: Dr. Chris Pyke, Senior Vice President, Arc Skoru Inc.
Presenter: Mr. Joel Solomon, Senior Policy Analyst, National Education Association
Presenter: Ms. Destiny Aman, Founder, JPoint Collaborative
3:55pm - 4:00pm