Even with federal funds, US schools still rely on low-cost methods to slow Covid, a study finds.
Despite additional federal funding, US schools report that they are more likely to rely on low-cost strategies to improve ventilation to slow the spread of coronavirus, according to a study published on Tuesday of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Measures include organizing outside activities, opening doors and windows, and checking existing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, the study said.
Only about a third of public schools said they had taken more costly steps like replacing or upgrading their HVAC system. Less than a third said they used highly effective particulate air filtration (HEPA) systems in classrooms and cafeterias.
Schools serving children in America’s poorest communities are slightly more likely to replace or upgrade HVAC systems than schools serving middle-poor communities, study finds shows. Nearly half of the schools serving the poorest communities – and nearly half of the schools serving the wealthiest communities – have replaced or upgraded their HVAC systems, compared with just one-third of schools with low levels of income. average poverty. The poorest schools were also more likely to have their HVAC systems tested and validated than the average poverty schools.
The authors of the CDC report suggest that while schools in more affluent areas may already have the resources to upgrade their systems, schools in high poverty areas may already have more experienced in accessing and using federal funds for such purposes.
Thirty-five percent to 44 percent of schools in the poorest communities reported using HEPA filtration systems in spaces where children eat and in classrooms and high-risk areas, and 36 percent Up to 50 percent of schools serving low-poverty communities reported using HEPA filters in those areas.
In contrast, only one in four or five schools serving medium-poor communities reported using HEPA filters in those places.
The study builds on the findings of a nationally representative sample of 420 K-12 public schools, using data collected between February 14 and March 27 from the School’s Covid-19 Prevention Study. Nation. The sampling frame includes public schools from all 50 states and the District of Columbia; it is a web-based survey distributed to school administrators.
However, only 26 percent of schools that received surveys in February and March responded. The percentage of students eligible for free or reduced price meals was used to determine the poverty level in each school’s community.
Location also correlates with measures taken to improve ventilation: Rural schools use less portable HEPA filtration systems than urban and suburban schools.
On the other hand, schools in the city have fewer windows open than schools in the countryside, suburbs or towns, possibly due to concerns about noise and air pollution (some schools may also not be open). Windows). City schools are also less likely to use fans to increase air movement when they open windows.
“Additional efforts may be needed to ensure that all schools successfully access and use resources to improve ventilation,” the authors write, particularly in schools in rural areas and places with moderate poverty levels.