The Governor’s order comes as students return to school amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and record heat, where some do not have air conditioning or proper air filtration systems.
At a Board of Public Works meeting today, Governor Hogan instructed the State Superintendent of Schools and the Interagency Commission on School Construction to “conduct an immediate statewide assessment of ventilation and air filtration in Maryland public school buildings.”
Just a day earlier, 31 schools in Baltimore City were forced to close early due to insufficient or nonexistent air conditioning and air filtration, which health experts say is critical to mitigating COVID-19 transmission.
From the Governor’s press release:
“Earlier this year, we enacted a historic school construction plan with record funding to make sure that all school buildings across the entire state were modern, safe, efficient, and air conditioned. Protecting students from the sweltering heat is critically important, and city leaders have continued to fail in this regard. But the problem goes far beyond that now because of COVID-19.
“Our public health experts have repeatedly stressed that proper ventilation is a critical tool to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. The CDC specifically recommended maximizing building ventilation and improving the level of air filtration as much as possible through the use of high-efficiency HEPA filtration units.
After months of requesting this information, we’re no longer asking. So today, I’m directing the State Superintendent of Schools and the Interagency Commission on School Construction to immediately provide us a report on ventilation and air filtration systems, district by district and school by school, and we will be holding school systems accountable for these financial resources and the way that they have been utilized to ensure that safe and healthy environments are in our school buildings for all of our kids.”