At least 597 elementary, middle school, and K-8 classrooms in Portland Public Schools get less than 3 changes of air per hour.
Even when the district’s air purifier is running at the level classrooms can handle.
Another 1111 kindergarten through 8th grade classrooms, at minimum, only get between 3 and 6 air changes per hour.
And that doesn’t even count all the libraries, cafeterias, gyms, aftercare rooms, SUN school rooms, auditoriums, band rooms, and performance rooms that are below 3 or below 6 changes of air per hour.
PPS elementary, middle school, and K-8 schools need more filtration capacity to meet the public health recommendation of more than 6 air changes per hour. There are 597 / 1111 of these subpar rooms and counting … Refreshing air in classrooms at least 6 times an hour is what we need to protect Portland kids and teachers from respiratory viruses, asthma triggers, and cancer-causing PM 2.5.
There is a current time-sensitive opportunity to get much needed additional air purifiers into PPS classrooms – for free – from the Oregon Health Authority. Read up on the program in one of our example analyses we’ve done and gotten up online below, for a selection of schools across the district – and then make sure your school is signing up to get Medify’s from OHA by April 28.
Please note that our analyses do not yet include high schools in PPS, nor ACCESS Academy, and those schools’ rooms need second air purifiers as well. PPS and their environmental consultants have not done an airflow report at all for ACCESS’s current building. The district and environmental consultants also did not QA their reports, and made an across-the-board error in every single high school room by mixing meters and feet in a basic calculation. The error makes airflow look higher than it actually is.
PPS has done some great things for indoor air for our kids! But unsafe, poorly ventilated air remains a huge problem in our district.
What we’ve gotten right in PPS … The district:
- Conducted room by room measurements of airflow in each PPS building before schools opened back up for in-person learning
- Made those airflow reports public
- Followed recommendations to upgrade HVAC filters to MERV 13’s
- Secured an initial batch of air purifiers that do improve upon the abysmal ventilation rates shown in the airflow reports
- Got these initial air purifiers on a tight deadline before full-day in-person learning resumed
PPS making the airflow reports public has allowed parents and community members with technical knowledge to look up details for their classroom. It also allowed the Oregonian to do important analysis and reporting on the findings, and how PPS is falling short in protecting kids and staff from airborne virus transmission. However, the Oregonian analysis relied on PPS reports as they were published, while PPS reports as published have had several gaps and problems.
But the reports being public has also allowed scientists on our team to fill in and correct several of those gaps.
So we can see and share with you how good or bad the air really is in your school and classroom. With these numbers, we can also advocate together for all PPS classrooms to meet recommendations for safe air – like we did when three of us spoke at the PPS school board meeting on March 21 .
We have done basic analyses that correct for gaps in PPS’s reports on airflow in all elementary, middle school, and K-8 schools in PPS that have a valid airflow report, and we will be working to make all of those public here on our site over the coming weeks.
However, earlier this week, we became aware that the Oregon Health Authority announced that schools and school districts have until April 28 to order additional air purifiers through a CDC-funded initiative. To make sure PPS classrooms get what they need, we have worked to get some example schools up online ASAP with an analysis of how these OHA filters would improve school ventilation metrics – illustrating why PPS needs these additional air purifiers in our kindergarten through 8th grade classrooms.
Look up our analysis of your school, if listed here, and help us ensure that PPS gets enough filtration capacity! Or if your school isn’t listed, then sign up to join us here and we’ll reach out with more details about your school.
Is your elementary, middle school, or K-8 school not listed here?
We have base analyses done for your school, but we just haven’t gotten it up online here! Sign up here to connect with us about what PPS’s own data shows about your school: