Anoka-Hennepin Schools Upgrade HVAC Systems to Combat COVID, ‘The Rooms Smell Fresher’
School resumed this week for Anoka-Hennepin students in kindergarten through second grade. However, there’s one key difference from the last time they were in the building.
“I’ve heard people tell me that the rooms smell fresher,” said Steve Anderson, Anoka-Hennepin’s director of building and grounds during a visit to Monroe Elementary in Brooklyn Park. “They think it sometimes smells more like the outside air.”
If rooms smell more fresh, that’s because they are. The district used $1.4 million from the federal CARES Act to upgrade ventilation systems and install bipolar ionization technology.
In other words, ions attach themselves to particulates in the air such as dust, bacteria and viruses like COVID-19.
“Once they attach themselves to COVID-19, what they found in independent lab tests is that in 30 minutes, 99.4 percent of the COVID-19 virus will be deactivated,” Anderson said, “so essentially rendering it harmless.”
Anderson and his team spent most of the fall making the upgrades to every building in the district. It was a tall task to help make the return to in-person learning as safe as possible.
“So what we’re trying to do, along with the masks, the washing of hands, the social distancing, and the scrubbing of the air with the ions, trying to create a safer place for the students and staff and community to be in our buildings,” he said.
One day, COVID-19 will hopefully be behind us. Whenever that day comes, Anderson says these ventilation systems will still keep churning out fresh air.
“There was a lot of people that contributed, and the team worked very well together to get this to happen,” Anderson said.