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Over the last year, we have learned that COVID-19 infections primarily occur as the result of airborne transmission in indoor spaces. This puts facility managers on the frontlines of the effort to mitigate risks and promote a safe and confident re-entry. This situation is particularly acute and pressing for thousands of K-12 schools across the United States attempting to re-open this Spring.
Public health researchers have determined that strategies such as opening windows, enhancing fresh air delivery, and air filtration can significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission risks. Consequently, IAQ management has emerged as an foundational part of school re-opening plans. However, there are many perspective on these issues, along with new research, recommendations and tools (e.g., Arc Re-Entry).
On February 23, 2021, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security hosted a conversation on indoor air quality and K-12 schools. The session brought together experts from across the United States. The full recording is available on demand, along with reporting from CNN. The following section provides a copy of my remarks.
I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this distinguished program this afternoon.
Today, we have repeatedly heard the clear and convincing science of indoor transmission and infection control.
I want to talk with you about how we can help facility managers put this science into practice.
Over the last five years, Arc has helped thousands of facilities measure and benchmark human experience and indoor air quality.
Over the past year, we have adapted and extended our tools to support a safe, confident re-entry during and after COVID-19.
Our work is rooted in three foundational beliefs, re-entry requires:
Our approach reflects our confidence that facility management can create safe, comfortable learning environments and our experience that many facilities do not deliver performance consistently.
I want to balance concern about specific mitigation technologies — air changes per minute, HEPA, UVGI, and more — with the reality that any tool must be embedded within an effective, accountable, and transparent management process.
We have created free tools, guidance, and case studies to define and support this process. They are available on our website, www.arcskoru.com, along with examples of their use by schools around the world.
Our approach is rooted in four elements we believe are vital for a safe, confident re-entry:
These high-level goals can be translated into trackable performance metrics. In turn, these metrics can be used to:
Our approach is based on our experience that:
These are not technology issues. They are fundamentally management and process issues. They must be solved with better management. We believe that we can help by defining better processes and supporting them with practical, accessible tools.
We have appreciated the opportunity to help schools meet this moment. It is worth remembering that we have seen significant, positive developments during the last challenging year, notably including:
Yet, our stakeholders face challenges:
Overall, this captures where we are right now: tangible progress, significant challenges, and real opportunities to meet the moment in a way that helps address our long-term sustainability goals.
I will close by offering three action items:
I appreciate your time and consideration. I’m looking forward to the rest of the program.