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As the semester is underway for the majority of schools across the country, districts in Virginia are taking extra safety precautions amid the threat of COVID-19 and the highly-contagious Delta variant. As reported by WAVY.com, a common investments being made center on air quality, particularly the installation of High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters with additional UVC disinfection capabilities. 

The inspiration for some distracts to invest came from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) webinar in which it was explained how small aerosols are capable of keeping infections permeating in the air for up to two hours without intervention from filtration or ventilation. With the combination masks and improved ventilation, however, exposure chances can be decreased up to 90 percent, the webinar noted. 

Preventing this exposure comes by creating air exchanges through proper ventilation, preferably at least four to six air exchanges per hour in a particular area. That's where the HEPA filters come into play, helping to ensure that clean outdoor air is coming in while filtering out potentially harmful aerosols. 

Taking a proactive approach, the Virginia Beach schools district invested in 500 HEPA filters with UVC capability, an investment approximated at $1.5 million. While a hefty price tag that will require maintenance, officials at the school believe it will more than pay back the upfront spending though healthier air and fewer COVID-19 outbreaks. 

The ability to keep students and staff healthy in schools is important not only for wellbeing, but it can have serious bottom line implications. For more on the impact of unhealthy schools, check out this by-the-numbers feature on the risks of insufficient cleaning.