This next step sounds easy, but it will require either actively walking the buildings or holding more than one Zoom meeting. It is important to verify that what your facility maintenance department says they have done is, in fact, done. In other words, trust but also verify.

I speak from experience on this — years ago, one of my buildings was taken offline. Unfortunately, the equipment was at the end of life, so a workaround had been implemented to heat the building. Now, years later, just as we are getting ready to welcome even more classes back, someone recalled that we had put a workaround in place. Meanwhile, I had already put out a statement saying all building systems have been tested and are working to meet the current COVID-19 standards on IAQ.

No one was trying to hide anything or cut a corner. The building was taken offline so long ago, the HVAC department just forgot to clarify that the building system was still offline. This would've been a minor issue that we could've articulated to that department if that had happened.

Making sure you have checked the work before declaring that everything is ready saves time later. If you are directly in charge of an HVAC department, make sure you have adjusted the preventative maintenance schedule of the equipment.

Think Big Picture

It is important that the policies, and the communication of those policies, are comprehensive and clear. For example, in addition to listing what IAQ efforts are in place, make sure to have best practices for building occupants featured on the website.

This includes do's and don'ts such as propping doors open for personal fans or heaters, which can harm IAQ. Leaving the doors open also poses safety-related issues during a lockdown, like needing to close the door instead of just locking it while safely in the room.

The tunnel vision when it comes to worrying about COVID-19 has gotten in the way of many other safety concerns we all had before the virus hit. Reminding everyone that those concerns are still present is vital.

previous page of this article:
Managing Indoor Air Quality Expectations
next page of this article:
Helping Staff With Elevated Cleaning Expectations