Harvard during the spring

The ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has developed guidance on the operation of HVAC systems to help mitigate the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 as schools, colleges and universities prepare to reopen for the fall academic year.

The 41-page presentation includes convenient checklists to prepare educational buildings to resume occupancy by starting up HVAC systems. It also provides guidance on maintaining these systems during the school year. The guidance is meant to provide practical information to school districts and university campus environmental health managers, facility managers, administrators, technicians and service providers.

“As schools prepare to reopen for the fall academic semester, it's important to keep children and school staff safe,” says 2020-21 ASHRAE President Charles E. Gulledge III, in a press release. “ASHRAE’s school reopening guide will serve as a resource to school leaders as they work in lockstep with health experts to finalize plans to keep everyone safe.”

The guide includes the following topics:

- Determining building readiness

- Equipment- and system-specific monitoring during the school year

- Modified facility design recommendations

- Filtration upgrades

- Operations of occupied facilities

- Controlling infectious outbreak in school facilities

- Higher education facilities recommendations

Also included is guidance formulated to help designers retrofit and plan for the improvement of indoor air quality and to slow the transmission of viruses via the HVAC systems, as well as new guidance on student health facilities, laboratories, athletic facilities, residence halls, and large assemblies, lectures and theater gatherings. 

“School and university officials are challenged with making very difficult decisions on how to best protect both students and staff as education facilities reopen, says Corey Metzger, ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force school team lead. “This guidance offers a solid framework on ventilation control, filtration and maintenance that can be applied to different climate zones, building types and HVAC systems.”