Building ventilation is a key strategy for improving indoor air quality. Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, research demonstrated the importance of outdoor air ventilation – and the related practice of air filtration – for reducing indoor exposure to viruses and to a host of common air pollutants. The pandemic highlighted both the need for proper ventilation and the fact that millions of students attend schools with inadequate ventilation and indoor air quality. The burden of these conditions is not distributed equally, due in part to disparities in school facilities funding by community wealth, rural location, and student race and ethnicity. Heightened public awareness presents states with an unprecedented opportunity to advance new policies addressing school ventilation, to help ensure that all existing school facilities are healthier now and better equipped to address future emergencies. While many states already have laws or regulations that address school facility conditions in some manner, most of those policies lack the foundational elements of an effective and comprehensive approach: clear ventilation and filtration requirements, oversight mechanisms for facilitating compliance, and equitable financial and technical assistance programs.
Ventilation in Schools: A Review of State Policy Strategies discusses key policy strategies for states to consider and describes how current state laws and regulations address school ventilation requirements for general operations, as well as enhanced ventilation during infectious disease emergencies. The report also highlights selected state policies providing financial and technical assistance for school ventilation.
This report and other state policy resources on indoor environmental quality are available through ELI’s Indoor Environments program: www.eli.org/buildings.