Edmonton Public Schools to spend $6M on HEPA filters for classrooms

File: A HEPA filter is seen in a Toronto classroom. Caryn Lieberman / Global News

The Edmonton Public School Board has been given approval from the province to spend millions of dollars in reserve funding on improving ventilation in its classrooms.

On Tuesday, EPSB chair Trisha Estabrooks said the minister of education approved the board’s request to access $6 million in reserve dollars to purchase HEPA filters.

“This is good news,” Estabrooks said.

“HEPA filters will go a long way in terms of increasing our ability to take what we keep calling our ‘layered approach’ to mitigating the spread of COVID and keeping our classrooms and our kids and our staff as safe as possible.”

Read more: Edmonton schools making changes to air filtration as calls grow for HEPA filters

Estabrooks said parents have also been pushing for this, with many sharing their concerns about air quality during public board meetings.

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“To finally see some guaranteed action on this, I think, is really positive news and a good step forward,” she said.

“I wish it had happened sooner, to be frank.”

Read more: Ontario’s investment in improving school air quality provides benefits beyond pandemic, experts say

The Public Health Agency of Canada says proper ventilation can help reduce the risk of COVID-19 and the use of HEPA filters could be considered as additional protection.

The board heard Tuesday that the number of self-reported cases of COVID-19 within public schools is on the decline. However, Estabrooks noted it remains to be seen how the school community may be impacted by the decision to lift the mask mandate for children in schools, which came into effect on Monday.

Click to play video: 'Some Edmonton schools taking steps to address air quality in classrooms' Some Edmonton schools taking steps to address air quality in classrooms
Some Edmonton schools taking steps to address air quality in classrooms – Jan 6, 2022

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