Currently, there is no safe way to isolate symptomatic students and staff members at current school facilities. If someone is showing symptoms, they are placed in a separate room away from others; however, this distancing alone cannot keep others safe. In fact, studies show that a facility's HVAC system may have a role in pathogen transmission and control.
As more and more outbreaks are occurring within schools, many boards are pivoting to remote learning when they are forced to halt classes and send students home. Owing to several factors related to insufficient infrastructure for socially distanced classroom learning as well as lack of HEPA filtered HVAC systems, schools are having difficulties minimizing outbreaks, thereby depriving students of much needed social learning.
Space Limitations during COVID
A study conducted by Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto notes that it was impossible to maintain social distance between students unless existing classrooms were limited to 12 to 15 students (preliminary summary of initial observations can be found here. Current school infrastructure does not contain enough space to limit classroom size in this manner.
Long Term Challenges
Aging infrastructure is a reality for many schools as is overcrowding. This creates risk even in a post COVID-19 era. For example, Toronto had 150 over-capacity schools before the COVID-19 shutdown and the pandemic has only further displayed the public health risk of packed schools and infrastructure that is in aging.
Meeting New Standards
During the SARS outbreak in 2003, recommendations were made regarding installing HVAC systems that can exchange the air within a room about 12 times per hour. Most ventilation systems in schools do not contain HEPA filtration and are expensive to retrofit. Some schools have tried to put temporary HEPA filtration systems in spaces but these systems are loud and disrupt the learning environment; however, replacing old HVAC systems can be cost prohibitive in some instances so other solutions are required to meet new standards.
COVID has created the need for updating methods of communication worldwide. Traditional interactions between parents and educators are conducted in person; however, COVID has forced teachers and parents to remain at a distance which has made communications challenging. As new standards of infection prevention are here to stay, new methods of communication should be developed.
FERO Can Help
Creating Safe Spaces for Classroom Learning
Studies have shown that quiet HEPA filtration rooms (conducive to classroom learning environments) with higher air exchanges tend to have less viral RNA detected in the air. The FERO systems ensure each classroom and each isolation room has its own HEPA filtered (almost completely silent) HVAC unit to ensure no air flows between classrooms, thereby reducing risks of school outbreaks.
FERO’s rugged hard-shelled structures allow for long term use with minimal wear and tear. Units are made entirely out of metal and are designed for long and flexible as well as safety of students and educators at a fraction of the cost of building current infrastructure.
Temperature Resistant and Weather Proof
All FERO units are insulated, heated and cooled to meet Canadian weather fluctuations and withstand extreme weather conditions such a strong winds and snow storms. They can be used as standalone portable or isolation rooms or can be connected to existing schools without cross-contamination between enclosures.
How FERO is Different
Each unit of the FERO solution is serviced from the exterior so that no service personnel ever enters a classroom.
Customizable and Scalable
FERO units are modular and scalable so they can be used as standalone portable or isolation rooms or can be connected to existing schools without cross-contamination between enclosures.
Proprietary Wall System
All FERO units contain medical grade seamless finishes, including a proprietary metal wall system, ensuring that the units can be cleaned with any disinfecting product with no wear and tear to reduce infection. The interior walls, formed from high gloss powder coated metal are mold resistant and provide excellent surfaces for writing using, for example, dry erase markers.