How we get back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kentucky and around the nation is a question that is slowly being answered.
One thing to know now is that funding sources are being made available to schools and school districts to make their facilities safe for the return of students, teachers, and staff.
Emergency funds meant to overcome barriers created by the COVID-19 pandemic are available to elementary and secondary schools and are being distributed through local education agencies. The funds set aside for schools are being allocated through a program known by the acronym ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief), with the current round known as ESSER II - and a third round of ESSER funds are anticipated in the near future.
At this time, funds are available for a variety of uses. Some school districts may decide to use their allotted funds for more air filters, in-room air cleaners, and UV filters - or select more comprehensive projects such as HVAC system replacements. Others may decide to use the money to buy laptops for students still opting to work in a hybrid environment.
What's Right For Your School?
To help make decisions about ways to prepare a school for the transition into a safe setting that meets post-COVID 19 expectations, the ESSER documents offer some guidance.
When it comes to ventilation and heating systems that may require more in-depth analysis and decision making, organizations like ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) also offer guidance.
According to GRW's manager of mechanical engineering, Cory Sharrard, the basics include a review of existing energy efficiency measures that may be in place, such as running HVAC systems continuously or for longer periods of time. With these measures considerations include the increase in occupied schedules, extended run time of outside air units, removal of any demand control ventilation, etc.
ASHRAE also suggests incorporating continued maintenance, as well as checklists to help verify existing systems are operating at optimal levels.
To help school districts sift through the ASHRAE guidance, ESSER applications for funding, and other questions about making your schools safer for the future, links to resources are provided below.
For more hands-on assistance, call or email Cory Sharrard, PE, LEED AP. She can help you interpret the information and guide you to a decision that best fits your facility or district.
859-223-3999, ext. 214
- Summary ASHRAE Recommendations: https://www.ashrae.org/file%20library/technical%20resources/covid-19/core-recommendations-for-reducing-airborne-infectious-aerosol-exposure.pdf
- ASHRAE Guidance for Schools: https://www.ashrae.org/file%20library/technical%20resources/covid-19/ashrae-schools-c19-guidance.pdf
- U.S. Department of Education ESSER Information: https://oese.ed.gov/offices/education-stabilization-fund/elementary-secondary-school-emergency-relief-fund/
- ESSER II Guidance - Kentucky: https://education.ky.gov/comm/Documents/Elementary%20and%20Secondary%20School%20Emergency%20Relief%20Fund%20II.pdf