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Federal Funding for Facility Upgrades that Improve IAQ will have better long-term outcomes on sick rates

Federal Funding for Facility Upgrades that Improve IAQ will have better long-term outcomes on sick rates

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Through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund allocates a large amount of funding for school districts to repair and/or improve facility equipment, ventilation systems, and more to reduce the risk of virus transmission between students and staff.

For years, outdoor air pollution has been a point of discussion involving the negative impacts on health. Correlations have linked certain types of cancer, bronchial issues like asthma and allergies, etc. to high concentrations of contaminants in the air. Over the past few years, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies have shown human exposure to air pollutants indoors can actually be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can also lead to a large variety of health problems and potentially impact comfort, concentration, and performance.

Most people, even prior to March 2020, spend roughly 90 percent of their time indoors, which makes good IAQ increasingly important. Failure to respond to poor IAQ can lead to cough, eye irritation, headache, asthma, allergic reactions, and more. Nearly 1 in 13 school-aged children has asthma, which is the leading cause of absenteeism in schools, according to the EPA.

The Department of Education states “The importance of well-ventilated spaces extends beyond preventing the spread of COVID-19. Older and outdated school buildings should look at the Federal Funds available to upgrade and replace outdated heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and other environmental dangers such as mold and leaks that contribute to poor air quality.”1 Students, teachers and staff are often in close contact with one and other during in-person learning, especially now that social distancing standards have decreased from six feet to three feet. This makes proper maintenance of indoor air critical to improving the safety and health of your students, faculty and staff.

Effective March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) of 2021 has provided each state within the United States a specific amount of funds to safely and effectively re-open classroom doors to students and staff for in-person learning. No less than 20 percent of these funds is reserved for addressing learning loss that may have resulted from remote learning models. However, the remaining percentage of funds can be used to implement health-focused resources, including school facility repairs and improvements that reduce the risk of viral transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards.

The ARP includes “Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and nonmechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement,” as approved resources for funding use.2

Stark Tech Group can not only provide the specific equipment required for safe re-opening, but can integrate the upgrades and replacements within existing building management systems. We are committed to providing customized service solutions to our clients that are tailored to their specific needs. Stark is a leader in comprehensive intelligent building solutions that brings together a diverse and specialized group of technologies, services, and expertise. 

Sources:

  1. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, ED COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs Washington, DC, 2021
  2. American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Congress.gov

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