SFUSD Planning to Increase Supply of Portable Air Cleaners

SFUSD Planning to Increase Supply of Portable Air Cleaners

Press Release

San Francisco (August 23, 2021) - San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) classrooms that rely on open windows to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 will soon be able to deploy portable air cleaners (PACs) as needed to improve indoor air quality during fire season. 

Pending approval from the SF Board of Education, SFUSD will purchase portable air cleaners for SFUSD classrooms for a total cost of $2.9 million. Currently approximately 10% of SFUSD’s 3,000-plus classrooms have portable air cleaners deployed by SFUSD.

Throughout the summer SFUSD Facilities staff tested the impact of running multiple air cleaners in old school buildings to make sure the portable air purifiers would not impact other electrical needs essential to operating a school site. Some SFUSD school site buildings may not be able to support the power requirements of widespread portable air cleaner deployment.

“SFUSD has already distributed 775 portable air cleaners to ensure classrooms without sufficient operable windows or mechanical air systems have adequate ventilation,” said Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews. “With increased concerns about managing indoor air quality in light of wildfires and COVID and given our early tests, we have been preparing to purchase even more portable air cleaners.”

Current guidance from the SF Department of Public Health states, “During wildfires or other times when air quality is poor, prioritize maintaining healthy air quality indoors. Your school can stay open even if you need to close your windows or decrease outdoor air intake by your ventilation system during these times. Continue other precautions, especially wearing face masks.”

Every school site space with more than one occupant has at least one of the following: an operable window, a portable air cleaner, or mechanical ventilation. Before returning to in-person learning this year, Facilities staff reviewed over 50,000 windows. Out of SFUSD’s 3,063 elementary, middle, and high school classrooms, 160 lacked operable windows.

Deployment of the additional portable air cleaners will begin on a rolling basis as soon as possible. 

SFUSD is not accepting donations of portable air cleaners as the equipment needs to meet specific standards related to both wattage and air filtration. Donations in support of SFUSD’s COVID response, including purchasing more portable air cleaners, may be made to Spark* SF Public Schools, the non-profit that raises funds to support SFUSD’s priority improvement initiatives.

About SFUSD

SFUSD is the seventh largest school district in California, educating over 54,000 preK-12 students every year. San Francisco is both a city and a county; therefore, SFUSD administers both the school district and the San Francisco County Office of Education (COE). This makes SFUSD a “single district county.”

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