We received the much anticipated ventilation report for the Keene School District and, as promised, I’m sharing it as well. The report came back much better than I think was anticipated, which is good news, with assurances that we will be ready to receive students on September 10th. I want to thank our Business Office and our Buildings and Grounds Office for the foresight in coordinating this effort in advance. Many other districts are only beginning the process and will certainly be faced with bigger challenges.
The Executive Summary provided here in the text that follows is taken directly from the report:
EEI performed site inspections at all of the Keene schools to help the district operate their ventilation systems per the recommendations in the State of New Hampshire Grades K-12 Back-to-School Guidance for reopening schools that was issued in July of 2020. Specific findings and recommendations follow the executive summary.
That Guidance states that:
As we learn more about the spread of COVID-19, the role of poor air circulation has become a concern. Schools should ensure that HVAC systems are working properly and are configured to increase the circulation of exterior air as much as possible. Schools should also consider other opportunities to circulate exterior air into buildings, through the use of open windows and doors (with appropriate safety protocols) and moving instructional opportunities outdoors when the weather is conducive. Facilities should evaluate their buildings’ ventilation systems to increase auditorium and overall building ventilation, increase the number of air exchanges, increase outdoor air ventilation, limit internal air circulation, and improve central air filtration. Ventilation systems’ filters must be routinely replaced and other necessary maintenance should be performed as needed. CDC guidance should be reviewed and used in evaluating building ventilation.
We evaluated current ventilation conditions for 8 buildings in the District. They included, one preschool, four elementary buildings, KMS, KHS and the central office. Overall we found existing ventilation systems in 7 out of 8 of the buildings, and the majority of spaces and rooms have existing ventilation. Symonds, Franklin, KMS, and the SAU buildings have the most modern and centralized systems allowing for easy upgrades to MERV 13 filtration and additional air exchange rates. Fuller and KHS have a combination of centralized Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) systems, Roof Top Units, and Unit ventilators (UV). Fuller is completely ventilated while seven spaces at KHS have been identified as lacking ventilation. Wheelock primarily relies on UVs but does have ventilation throughout the classrooms. The multipurpose and some ancillary areas are without ventilation. Jonathan Daniels School currently does not have viable ventilation.
Areas without ventilation shall be remedied per the detailed recommendations below. In general, areas that are non-ventilated should have a reduction in utilization and capacity, windows should be opened to allow for fresh air, exhaust fans with supply air should be installed, Unit ERVS should be considered to allow for use in colder conditions, and long term should see the installation of centralized ERV systems. All systems should be serviced or repaired to allow them to work within their designed capability. Filters should be replaced to achieve increased filtration without compromising designed air exchange rates. Long term planning should begin to bring all areas up to district standards, achieve current building codes, and maximize fresh air and filtration.
Keene School District’s approach to improving air quality:
- Keene School District has reviewed State of New Hampshire and CDC Guidance on ventilation systems.
- All ventilation units have been inspected and when necessary have been or will be repaired prior to the start of school.
- Keene School District will operate existing ventilation systems prior to students return to create a full building flush
- During the school year the controls system will be modified to have ventilation systems run a minimum of 2 hours prior to occupancy and 2 hours post occupancy to perform a daily ventilation flush.
- Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV) and Air Handling Units (AHU) that recirculate air have had their filters upgraded to MERV-13
- Schools under construction (Symonds and Franklin) will have air systems balanced by a certified air balancing contractor prior to start of school.
- Unit Ventilators are being evaluated to increase from MERV 6 to MER10
- Controls sequence have been modified to increase outdoor air flow in auditoriums and other air handlers where possible.
Keene School District has made a number of HVAC investments during recent years. Including replacements and improvements at all three levels. Ventilation improvements have focused on, fresh air balanced with efficient operation. Those investments allow for operation of the majority of your buildings and classrooms to operate in accordance with the states reopening recommendations. At the preschool and identified areas at Wheelock and KHS, consideration for reduction or elimination of utilization, open windows, immediate temporary improvements, and long range planning to improve the ventilation to be consistent with the District’s other teaching spaces and meet the state's recommendations.
To view the complete report, please use the Ventilation Report embedded link here.