Every occupied classroom, portable and Wellness room will
soon be outfitted with an institutional grade HEPA filter. More than 235
schools have already received HEPA filters and following the province’s most
recent funding announcement, delivery of additional HEPA units will start by
early March at a rate of 1,500 units per week.
Units will be distributed to schools, based on the quintile
model developed by Toronto Public Health, starting with elementary schools in
areas of the city where there have been higher incidents of COVID-19. We expect
that all elementary schools will have units by the end of March, and all secondary
schools will have units by mid-April.
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 These units have been replaced by the commercial HEPA unites that the TDSB is purchasing and will be redeployed within the school for use in smaller spaces as well as in the Wellness rooms.
In schools and classrooms with mechanical systems, we have adjusted them to increase the ventilation by increasing the number of daily air exchanges 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.