Education, Healthcare, Latest News

Out with the bad air: Mon Schools discusses COVID guidance in its buildings for new year

MORGANTOWN — Monongalia County’s school district wants to clear the air for 2022.

Or at least help students and teachers coexist with it better during these pandemic days.

The district last week released an updated COVID response guide for its buildings, and HVAC, in many ways, is at the heart of that document.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems keep district buildings bearable, no matter what the weather on the other side of the window might be doing.

In the days before the contagion, HVAC was almost an afterthought in Mon’s schools – save for a broken thermostat or catastrophic failure of the furnace.

Not any more, Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said. Not with a respiratory illness in the air that can be lethal.

Last year, the district stepped up the frequency of filter changes, which will also carry over this winter and spring, the superintendent said.

Filters in all of Mon’s school building carry a rating of eight on the MERV scale, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values.

In the terms of COVID, a better filter to use would carry a MERV 13 rating, Campbell said, but the district’s heating and cooling systems, as a whole, aren’t advanced enough to take those filters.

To get around that, he said, Mon Schools last spring stepped up the schedule for filter changes, swapping them out faster to keep the efficiency.

Dropping in a new filter, Campbell said, is as easy as propping open a window.

Or it would be. Opening windows, according the guide, is discouraged.

“Please remember that anytime warm/moist air is introduced into a cooled environment, mold can form in a very short time,” the guide notes. “Open windows can lead to coughing and sneezing with children that have an allergy or asthma.”

The full document may be viewed at the Mon Schools website: Just click on the “2022 COVID-19 School Guidance” link.

In the meantime, Campbell said, the district’s masking will continue when students return to school Jan. 4 after the holiday break.

That goes for all the other pandemic protocols, too, he said.

TWEET @DominionPostWV