Local School Districts Improving Air Filtration As More Campuses Allowed To Reopen

As part of the pathway to reopening school buildings for in-person learning, Los Angeles Unified School District and others said they have upgraded their air filtration systems.

Video Transcript

- Now because COVID-19 spreads more rapidly in poorly ventilated areas, schools are upgrading their ventilation systems to safely reopen.

- KCAL 9's Hermila Aregawi spoke with a researcher at UC Davis on the ventilation inside California classrooms.

HERMELA AREGAWI (VOICEOVER): As part of the pathway to reopening schools for in-person learning, LAUSD and other school districts say they have upgraded their air filtration systems. In Santa Clarita, the William S. Hart Union High School district tells us they have spent millions on COVID-19 safety measures.

COLLYN NIELSEN: We have purchased more than 1,200 portable HEPA air filtration units for classrooms and communal office areas. Also taking a look at our permanent HVAC systems in our buildings, and we've changed out filters to MERV 13 filters as recommended by the County Department of Public Health.

HERMELA AREGAWI (VOICEOVER): UC Davis's Western Cooling Efficiency Center says filtration systems can remove carbon dioxide and airborne respiratory droplets which can pass the virus through the air.

THERESA PISTOCHINI: I kind of have this analogy where I imagine there's little glitter particles all over the air, right. And how are we going to get those particles out of the air, right? We can replace them or we can filter them.

HERMELA AREGAWI (VOICEOVER): Engineering manager Theresa Pistochini says there are two ways to get the particles out of the air.

THERESA PISTOCHINI: One is you can replace the indoor air with outdoor air, and that's called ventilation. And the other thing you can do is you can move the air through a filter, and that will remove a certain fraction of the particles.

HERMELA AREGAWI (VOICEOVER): Pistochini says studies have shown even in normal times the higher the ventilation rates in schools the better students and teachers perform.

THERESA PISTOCHINI: This has become very urgent because of the pandemic, but this is not just about the pandemic. There are studies that show how important it is to have working ventilation systems, because they improve student attendance. They improve student performance.

HERMELA AREGAWI: Pistochini says cleaning and upgrading the built-in filtration system is key. She says the portable filters alone are not sufficient. They just provide an extra layer of security. Hermela Aregawi, KCAL 9 News.