Clean Air in Schools: Beyond COVID-19

With thoughtfully designed layers, it is possible to close the clean air and education gap by keeping students in school

National Indoor Air Quality Month is coming to a close, which presents an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance of clean air in schools.

On October 11th, the White House hosted an Improving Indoor Air Quality Summit, bringing together public health and ventilation experts, private sector and education leaders, and other stakeholders to highlight the benefits of improved indoor air quality. In showcasing schools and businesses that are leading the way on this issue, the event underscored the importance of all building operators doing their part. The administration has also issued the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge to encourage ventilation and other indoor air quality improvements.

Standardizing test scores are shining a bright light on the tragic consequences of prolonged school closure and remote learning.

A quick peek at the graph shows the profound effect of virtual education on math proficiency in Montgomery County, Maryland — a northern suburb of Washington, DC. The county did virtual-only classes for nearly the entire 2020-2021 school year.

Source: Burbio's School Tracker Data
Source: Maryland State Department of Education

Parents and teachers alike are deeply concerned about this cratering in academic performance. Earlier this year, in a survey of over 1,000 Texas educators and parents, most agreed that in-person learning is the key to reversing these trends. Nearly 80% of parents and over 90% of teachers cited clean air as the critical enabler of in-person learning. In addition, a 2018 study by the Economic Policy Institute concluded that the more days of school a student misses, the poorer their performance will be — irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, or poverty status.

While the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the devastating effect of infectious disease on in-person education, other particles, aerosols, contaminants, and pollutants can trigger respiratory diseases like asthma and contribute to student absence and lost learning. Providing clean air from school bus to school building, from rooftop to desktop, is what parents and teachers expect and what our students need.

Citadel Sciences' team of certified experts is uniquely positioned to partner with education leaders to provide comprehensive, highly effective clean air solutions specifically tailored to the unique needs of each school system. Citadel solutions leverage technology designed to remove infectious and contaminant particles from the air itself in addition to surfaces where these particles can live. Because the enemy and the defense are both invisible, monitoring systems are critical so that the stakeholders know that the systems are working to provide an early warning so that interventions can prevent a hazard from escalating into a crisis.

No single contributor to safe, clean air in schools can solve the problem alone — each has its gaps. With the thoughtfully designed layers, it is possible to close the clean air and education gap by keeping students in school where they can learn while breathing the cleanest air they will experience all day.