HVAC Flaw Might Have Led to Pa. Elementary School COVID Outbreak — Spaces4Learning

COVID-19 and schools

HVAC failure could have resulted in PA. Elementary school COVID outbreak

Late last month, eight second-year students from one classroom at Penn Valley Elementary School in the Lower Merion School District near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received tested positive for coronavirus. Officials call it the first case of significant school handover in the district. Due to the number of students affected, employees conducted an investigation and discovered a possible cause for the spread.

LMSD’s Operations Department assessed the HVAC system in the classroom in question and found that some of the ductwork in the ceiling was “far too closed, leaving only (about) 30% of the maximum amount of fresh air it should have. in this particular room, ”said Terry Quinlan, the district’s chief supervisor for school health and student safety. Quinlan added that, with current information, the district “cannot say definitively whether the reduced fresh air flow contributed to the outbreak; however, it may be a factor. “

The Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH) noted that the spread could also be due in part to a variant of COVID-19, ‘citing both the rapid spread within the classroom and the fact that two vaccinated relatives of affected students also tested positive, ” according to the district website.

All members of the second class in question have been in quarantine since April 16. The district is currently conducting indoor air quality tests on all buildings.

Amy Buckman, spokesman for the Lower Marion School District, did not comment that inappropriate social distancing may have contributed to the spread. However, she said that in classrooms in the district, students are at least three feet apart in accordance with the guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and that “this is the only outbreak that will affect this. number of students we saw. “

Quinlan said district ventilation systems surpassed all standards before the pandemic and had since been upgraded. MERV 13 filters have been installed throughout the neighborhood, as well as bipolar ionization devices in larger rooms.

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Matt Jones is editor-in-chief of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].

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