In preparation for the projected Feb. 8 return date for small groups of students, William S. Hart Union High School District officials announced Wednesday that they had purchased more than 1,200 filters to be used in classrooms and communal office spaces.
The installation of electronic, high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filters in classrooms has been recommended by both the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, district officials said. The commercial-grade air purifiers are designed to filter allergens, bacteria, dust, viruses and common volatile organic compounds.
“We are excited to be able to acquire and deploy these units in the continued effort to do all we can for staff and student safety during these times,” Collyn Nielsen, chief administrative officer for the Hart District, said in a news release distributed by the district.
The decision that each classroom should have the HEPA-filtration systems in place before cohorts return was made by district staff under the the emergency powers granted by the district governing board to Superintendent Mike Kuhlman “to take any and all actions necessary to ensure the continuation of public education, and the health and safety of the students and staff.”
The approximate 1,200 filters cost a total of $1.6 million, and the purchase was made possible through federal COVID-19 relief funds, district officials said.
In addition to the filters, Hart district officials said they have implemented a number of other measures to reduce the risk of transmission once the cohort groups of students begin returning. These include purchasing personal protective equipment, reconfiguring classrooms to keep 6 feet of distance between students and staff, and installing hand sanitizer dispensers and replacing already-existing air filters throughout school campuses.
“All of these measures were prompted by recommendations from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the CDC and health experts from the State of California,” said Dave Caldwell, a spokesman for the district, via email Thursday. “We are working hard to utilize COVID-19 funds in a manner that helps keep students and staff safe — and hopefully accelerates the timeline for the reintroduction of students to the classroom.”