On Wednesday morning, Gainesville High School students trickled in while staff was hard at work unloading 27 pallets of newly purchased air purifiers.
As part of their management of COVID-19 safety, Alachua County Public Schools allocated their funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) to purchase these air purifiers.
— Sydney Dotson (@SydDotson) September 22, 2021
Jackie Johnson, Alachua County Schools communications and community initiatives director, said she hopes the installation of these filters will help people feel safer.
“We want to let families know that their students are in a safe environment. Same for our staff and for any visitors on our campuses,” she said.
As students are back to in-person schooling this year, classrooms could experience a heightened risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters can increase ventilation, reduce the spread of disease and lower the risk of exposure.
Both the CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency agree that with a 99.97% efficiency rate, HEPA filters can help capture COVID-19 particles that may be in enclosed spaces like classrooms.
Johnson says she hopes these filters will be useful at mitigating spread of disease beyond COVID-19.
“Hopefully that will help limit the spread of not just COVID, but we’re coming up on flu season, so that’s going to be helpful there, and also, allergens are a problem for many students, and these are going to be able to resolve that problem as well,” she said.
According to Johnson, along with the purifiers and their filters, the county bought an additional two-years supply of filters in hopes that schools will use them for the foreseeable future.
The county is also planning to purchase air purifiers for other campus areas including cafeterias and media centers.