Clean Air in Every School- Annual Day for Advocacy for Schools has Never Been so Important


By Deirdre Imus, April 6, 2021
Join me on National Healthy Schools Day (NHSD) and urge our school leaders and community members to focus on ensuring that there is clean air in every school. 

The virus that causes COVID-19 is airborne and infective. While it is important to continue to stay safe distances, wash hands often, and clean and disinfect surfaces, science shows us it is also important to ensure there is clean air. 

Everyone can help. Here are a few tips for keeping the virus at low levels indoors: 

1. Schools can commission an assessment of mechanical ventilating systems, and update filters to MERV 13 or higher.

2. Schools can make sure at least one window in each classroom opens.

3. If the mechanical systems are beyond repair or work only at a very low level, open a window, and plug in a portable HEPA air filter in the classroom.

4. If possible, consider walking the class outside once every two hours to allow the classroom to ventilate and dilute any aerosolized particles.

5. Use only unscented products in schools, like cleaning, hand sanitizing, and disinfectants.

6. Do not use fog disinfectants. If a spray is necessary, spray into the cleaning cloth to minimize breathing in the product.

7. Do not ask students to handle disinfectant products, not even wipes. Disinfectants are anti-microbial pesticides and are not for use by children.

Tip for school leaders: keep a list of repair and maintenance projects ready for the next time school needs to close for a week or two due to the pandemic.

This year, The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center(R) and scores of NHSD participants will share important information and resources on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and catching up on maintaining and repairing schools -- using both in-house staff and local trades. The same efforts can be targeted at childcare centers as well. 

Schools play myriad roles in our communities, going above and beyond during times of crisis to not only care for our children, but to also serve neighbors in need in ever-expanding ways.  

How can schools be healthier? What can facility workers do now to ensure fresh air, good lighting, less noise, clean water, and the use of green products all of which promote children's health and education? How can local community partners, businesses, elected officials and other leaders support and invest in schools to improve facilities and create jobs for local communities?

On National Healthy Schools Day, let’s be proactive about our children’s environment by taking time to address and improve indoor air quality in our schools.  

Raise your voice –this is the time to act for healthier children for generations to come.

Information about NHSD is available at
For more, contact NHSD Coordinator Alex Naidoo at 



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