Allotment of HEPA filters from province not enough for every school says SMCDSB

The board is expecting thousands of N95 masks to be delivered this week

The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board expects approximately 45,000 N95 masks to be delivered this week.

Spokesperson Pauline Stevenson said 35 is the board’s allotment of HEPA filters from the province.

“But this current allotment from the province doesn’t provide enough for every school (50 schools),” said Stevenson in an email to Barrie 360.

On Monday, Premier Doug Ford announced a two-week delay for in-person learning due to a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases across Ontario, a full-circle from the government’s original announcement on Dec. 29 that the return-to-school date would be pushed ahead by just two days, from Jan. 3 to Jan. 5

At the time, Ford said the two extra days after the winter break would give schools extra time to provide N95 masks to staff and to deploy 3,000 more HEPA filter units.

“All of our schools have HEPA filters,” said Stevenson. “We have been making them available for two years. We prioritize areas, i.e. all kindergarten classrooms, music rooms, etc.”

Stevenson added the board has also installed MERV 13 filters in every school.

“We have been making other HVAC infrastructure improvements, as well. The ventilation work is ongoing, but it doesn’t happen overnight.”

In an email statement, the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) said it is anticipating a shipment of HEPA filter units from the Ministry.

“The units will be prioritized for special education county classrooms where there may be students participating in in-person learning as per the Ministry directive,” according to the statement.

The SCDSB is also expecting a shipment of non-fitted N95 masks from the Ministry this week and will be distributing the masks to schools for staff use.

The board did not provide any numbers.