Students breathe easy in return to Campbell County Public Schools
On March 13, 2020, schools in Virginia were abruptly closed in response of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact on families and schools was felt immediately as everyone scrambled to continue education virtually. More than a year later, school systems are trying to figure out how to get students back to class five days a week. The Virginia Department of Education released guidance for school systems to create a Back to School Task-force. Their purpose was to evaluate the needs and concerns of their community about the hopeful return to school.
Campbell County Public School (CCPS) System in Central Virginia is responsible for 13 schools in their district. Their leadership focused on how they could return to school as soon as it was safely possible. Virtual learning is a wonderful method for some students, but for others, it is not the ideal delivery model for education. Children in the 2nd grade or earlier are still mentally developing and essentially, learning how to learn. Similarly, students with a disability or language barrier typically excel more so in a classroom environment.
One of CCPS’s guiding principles is to provide healthy educational environments for both their students and their faculty. Part of that commitment includes providing clean and sanitized buildings as they continue to navigate through COVID-19. When planning for a safe return, they discussed indoor air quality and ways to improve it. The discovery of bi-polar ionization (BPI) technology was exciting but challenging for the amount of equipment most likely needed to supply all 13 schools the same way.
According to the EPA, indoor air can contain up to 5-times the amount of pollutants than the air outside. Air conditioning is exactly what it sounds like, to condition the air making it comfortable, the ideal temperature and the best quality. BPI technology is an effective and affordable way to condition the quality of you air either in your business or home.
Bi-polar ions from air purification systems find molecules in the air and neutralize particles containing bacteria, odor, and other volatile organic compounds, like those found to cause the flu or COVID-19. Because ions are negatively or positively charged, they attract particles in heavy clusters making them fall from your breathing area where they are easily collected in filters. Business Insider magazine refers to BPI as a secret weapon in the war against COVID-19, especially in large-scale ventilation systems.
Campbell Country Public Schools reached out to Southern Air to glean more about BPI technology and the best way to utilize their budget. Equipping the 13 schools in the county would require more than 11,000 individual pieces of BPI equipment. As soon as Congress passed the CARES Act providing financial relieve to the schools, CCPS and Southern Air sprang into action immediately.
Southern Air’s Service Department conducted the initial survey to identify all air-handling equipment ideal for BPI. They obtained the large number of air purification equipment from multiple vendors. The installation plan would require patience and extreme flexibility.
“The administration had a ‘let’s get to work’ attitude throughout the entire process and met Southern Air more than half way,” says Foster Beeker, Southern Air Service Vice President. “Our technicians worked around limited building access throughout the day, class changes, and extended time to allow for students to arrive and depart school. I send my kids to Campbell County schools and will continue five days a week in the fall. That’s not a salesman talking, that’s from a father.”
It took Southern Air’s Service technicians almost four months to complete their installations in the 13 schools. Many craftsmen walk away from jobs where feeling proud they have built, renovated or fixed a complicated issue for a customer. The overwhelming consensus from Service has the team beaming with pride as they graduate from the CCPS job. When the work helps young adults and children breathe safe and clean air, it allows them to keep their focus on their education, playing sports and growing up.
“The installation of bi-polar ionization air purification equipment into all Campbell County Public Schools is another step in providing the safest and most optimal learning environment possible,” says Dr. Bobby Johnson, Superintendent of Campbell Country Public Schools. “We have upgraded our HVAC systems with the most modern technology available to ensure COVID, as well as other airborne viruses, are eliminated to the greatest extent possible. Even before the pandemic, we make student and staff safety a top priority, as evidenced by the improved physical safety measures we have taken.”
Having school five days a week is important for students and their families. Many do not have time to dedicate 40+ hours a week to their children’s virtual education while also dedicating 40+ hours a week to an employer. Ensuring high indoor air quality will hopefully add confidence to faculty and parents. Ideally, this will encourage remote learners to make the decision to return to school.
Class is in session come Fall 2021! Don’t be tardy at Campbell County Schools, because they’ll be taking attendance.