Ventilation and Air Filtration at the Forefront of September 9 IAC Meeting

On September 9, the Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC) met virtually to discuss project updates and topics front-of-mind as Maryland kids go back to school.

The commission considered Baltimore City school ventilation and A.C., following the recent closure of some city schools due to insufficient or nonexistent air conditioning and air filtration, which health experts say is critical to mitigating COVID-19 transmission. Governor Hogan took up the issue at a September 1 Board of Public Works meeting and in a September 1 letter to the IAC (which the commission discussed at the start of its September 9 meeting).

Notably, Superintendent Choudhury questioned the total numbers of city schools that were closed, stating that he thought it was less than the 30 previously stated.

Baltimore City Planning Manager Jamie Bridges explained to the IAC that of the 30 schools closed earlier this year, 9 were closed for mechanical repairs to existing A.C. and filtration systems, 20 had no existing A.C., and all but 4 currently have plans in place to address the ongoing issues.

Superintendent Choudhury expressed willingness to add ventilation and air filtration as a standing topic to the IAC’s regular meetings.

The commission was also updated on the implementation of a 2018 measure enacted by the General Assembly to implement the Health Schools Act, setting aside an additional $15M for Baltimore City Schools specifically to repair and update heating and air conditioning systems. According Bridges, to-date the city has initiated 19 projects using the additional funding, of which 16 are fully operational, 2 are under construction, and 1 is in design.

The commission also considered the Annual Maintenance Report findings for Fiscal Year 2021. Of the schools assessed, 72% received a “passing” rating, while 28% failed.

Material from the meeting is available online: