Health & Wellness in School
Ventilation in Schools
Ensuring proper ventilation and airflow in our schools is one of the health measures we have in place to support student and staff wellness.
MERV 13 Filters
After exploring a number of options to improve ventilation in our schools, we have made the decision to install upgraded MERV 13 filters wherever possible and these filters will be changed more frequently.
Ventilation Measures in Place at CBE Schools
- All CBE schools, including approximately 5,400 classrooms, are mechanically ventilated.
- Approximately a third of our schools have 100% fresh air or independent classroom ventilation systems. This means there is no mixing of air between classrooms/cohorts in the building.
- To further enhance fresh air exchange, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are operated in "occupied mode" before and after each school day.
- HVAC systems are set to maximize outdoor air intake. This increases air exchange rates in classrooms.
- During the school day, weather permitting, windows can also be opened to increase ventilation.
HEPA filters are generally recommended when no mechanical ventilation exists, which means when windows are the only way to increase ventilation. As our schools are mechanically ventilated, we have not installed these filters.
Health Canada advises that “portable HEPA air filters should not be used as a replacement for proper indoor ventilation; rather, they should only be used during periods of inadequate ventilation measures.”
There are a number of potential concerns with the installation of HEPA filters in CBE classrooms, including:
- the risk of overloading school electrical systems;
- potential increase risk of virus transmission to students or staff closest to the device; and
- the cost to procure, clean, maintain and repair these devices.
In addition, the use of fans is restricted under government guidance. HEPA filtration units use fans to circulate the air in the room. At this time, the government has not issued guidance regarding the placement of portable HEPA filtration units within classrooms.
Following Government Guidance
Alberta Labour/Occupational Health & Safety and Alberta Health Services have inspected CBE schools for two consecutive years. This increases our confidence that the pandemic-related measures in place within CBE schools are fully compliant.
As we have done throughout the pandemic, the CBE continues to monitor the evolving situation. We adhere to guidance provided by Alberta Education and Alberta Health Services to ensure the safety of students and staff.