Philadelphia improving ventilation in schools before students return

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The School District of Philadelphia said it is working on a low-cost solution to improve the ventilation in its aging school buildings before students and staff return to in-person learning.

"Our Facilities & Maintenance Team continues to install window fans and make other needed repairs to ventilation systems to support proper ventilation in our schools as we prepare to safely welcome back staff and students in phases for in-person teaching and learning," a message posted to the district's site said Tuesday.

Administrators have ordered 3,000 window fans. The fans are manufactured to generate at least 270 cubic feet of fresh air per minute.

They had specialists certify that the air flow brings in enough fresh air to safely allow 18 people per room before applying the social distancing requirement.

"It's also enough fans to have extras in case we need to replace any later in the school year," the district said.

SEE ALSO: School District of Philadelphia announces details on reopening schools using hybrid learning plan

The rooms will not drop below 68 degrees "to support comfortable in-person learning environments for students and staff."

"We have proactively tested temperatures in a sample of rooms with the window fans on to assess the impact. In all cases, temperatures in the room remained above 68 degrees," the district said.

The district said window fans have been delivered to all school buildings that need them and installation has begun.

To date, more than one third of the fans have been installed.

"Our goal - as much as possible - is to have all window fans installed before staff return on February 8. Recent weather conditions may cause a slight delay in our installation schedule," the district said.

Kindergarten through 2nd grade students are scheduled to start hybrid schedules on February 22.

Once in-person learning begins, the district said building engineers will safely check classrooms to ensure the window fans are operating properly and the room temperatures are appropriate.
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