Every occupied classroom, portable and Wellness room has received a stand-alone, institutional grade HEPA filters as of April 10, 2021. This includes schools that have partial and mechanical ventilation, as well as schools without mechanical ventilation. The HEPA filters should be turned on first thing in the morning by classroom staff and will be turned off at the end of the day/evening by caretaking staff.
HEPA filters are one tool used to help reduce transmission of COVID-19. Schools will continue to focus on self-screening, mask wearing, physical distancing, enhanced cleaning, hand washing, increasing fresh air through mechanical ventilation and/or opening windows and other safety protocols to keep schools, students and staff safe.
We are also grateful to Danby Appliances for donating 500 air purifiers to the TDSB that were distributed to 37 schools without mechanical ventilation and in the highest risk neighbourhoods for COVID-19 transmission, as identified by Toronto Public Health. These units have been replaced by larger HEPA units that the TDSB has purchased. The Danby units will be redeployed within the school for use in smaller spaces.
We have adjusted the operating schedule of all the mechanical systems in schools to increase the amount of ventilation brought into the space, by starting equipment two hours prior to school opening and running them two hours after the end of the day. We also replaced all filters before school started in September 2020 and are changing the filters more regularly throughout the year.
In addition, in line with Toronto Public Health's guidance, schools are also encouraged to open windows for short periods of time throughout the day to increase ventilation and bring in natural fresh air. During colder months, we will adjust the heating systems in schools to keep classrooms comfortable for students and staff in order to encourage windows being opened for a few minutes, a few times per day to increase ventilation.