NEW for fall 2020 – COVID-19 safety protocols
To meet members’ evolving needs, we have enhanced the HELP program to include an assessment of documentation of COVID-19 safety protocols. The information contained in this section is intended to provide and collect information based on current knowledge of the COVID-19 virus and its spread.
The seven categories identified are:
- Ventilation management
- Cleaning & disinfection/sanitizing
- Site safety
- COVID-19 case reporting
- Policy/Procedure Review
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers is an American professional association seeking to advance heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems design and construction.
ASHRAE leadership has approved the following two statements regarding transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the operation of HVAC systems during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.
- Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection. In general, disabling of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus.
Examples of school board operational procedures include:
- Running systems for 2 hours both before and after each school day at 100% outside air
- Increasing outside air volumes in order to dilute contaminants including viruses, and to disable demand control ventilation until further notice
- Upgrading filters to MERV 13 and consider increased frequency of filter changes
- Considering alternative measures for schools without mechanical supply ventilation (i.e. portable fans, portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters, UVGI [ultraviolet germicidal irradiation])
- On CO2 sensor equipped systems, lower CO2 setpoint.
- On variable air volume (VAV) system increase minimum flow setpoint
- On VFD enabled air handlers increase fan run speed
- Maintain 22-24o C and 40-60% humidity or as close as possible
- Perform regular maintenance per manufacturers and ASHRAE guidelines
- Work with a competent HVAC professional to develop and review the strategies
- Where viable include “enhanced air” mode operation in the building automation system
- Document all actions and changes
- Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses safety or health risk, e.g., risk of falling, triggering asthma symptoms, risk of bees/wasps, to students and staff
- Ensure all windows are closed at the end of the day
- Ventilation systems are freeze-protected for additional outside air
- Portable fans and air purifiers are unplugged at the end of the day
- Portable fans and air purifiers should be at the lowest setting with airflow pointed upwards
- Do not prop open fire doors to increase ventilation and/or reduce exposure to frequently touched door handles
- Ventilation System Management for Schools
- ASHRAE technical resources
- Ministry of Education Memorandum – Memo B12, Optimizing Air Quality in Schools. Issue date August 25, 2020
- Guidance for Building Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Atlanta, Georgia: ASHRAE; May 2020 [cited 2020 May 30]
Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
The OSBIE representative will be looking for documentation supporting policy/procedure and documentation of cleaning, disinfection/sanitizing practices.
Public Health Ontario – Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings
Government of Canada – Cleaning and disinfecting public spaces during COVID-19
- Mask wearing
- Proper hand washing techniques
- Physical distancing requirements
- Self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms
Examples of communication include:
- Documented announcements
- Protocols for non-compliance
Ontario.ca resource – COVID-19: reopening schools
The OSBIE representative will assess the following to ensure that collateral hazards that arise from COVID-19 safety protocols are addressed, for example:
- Storage of chemicals i.e. hand sanitizer
- Traffic flow measures do not block emergency exits
- Slip/trip & fall hazards due to increase in handwashing and hand sanitizer stations
- Entry protocols – i.e. greeter/signage that ensures those entering premises use hand sanitizer, wear mask – visitor tracking
- Isolation areas for staff/students – evidence of a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit
The OSBIE representative will review whether COVID-19 has impacted supervision, for example:
- Before/after school yard supervision
- Enforcing/monitoring off limit areas or equipment use
- Supervisors are aware of their supervision responsibilities
- Use of qualified supervisors (i.e. teachers/staff, paid lunchtime supervisors, adult volunteers)
- Direct sightlines (i.e. blind spots) or in-area supervision of elementary students both inside and outside
- Provide/enforce safety rules
- Follow supervision requirements as outlined in school board policy
The OSBIE representative will review evidence of communication, reporting, and record keeping of COVID-19 cases such as:
- Communication to staff about reporting confirmed cases to OSBIE
- Reporting procedure to school community where appropriate i.e. sample letter
- Record keeping – classes, seating charts, bus cohorts, daily visitors who are approved to enter the school
Ontario.ca resource – COVID-19: reopening schools
Additional considerations regarding the amendment of board policies/procedures to address COVID-19 health risks will be reviewed:
- Are there policies that allow the superintendent/board members to deviate from pre-established board policies to specifically address COVID-19 health risks?
- Have all school safety/security and emergency procedures/policies been reviewed to see if there is any conflict with COVID-19 prevention measures?