Manteca Unified is making its efforts to further reduce the chance for the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The district has ordered 900 more air scrubbers — including 500 smaller air purifiers for office areas.
The other 400 are the same size as the ones in the classrooms. They will be deployed to common areas such as gyms, cafeteria and multipurpose rooms.
That is in addition to the 1,400 plus classrooms that already have the portable hospital grade air purifiers in place. The first wave of Carrier OptiClean units designed for medical grade use cost the district $2.8 million in a bid to further enhance safety for the district’s 27,000 students, teachers, and support staff.
Manteca Unified has been contacted by nearby districts contemplating using the same technology.
A release from Carrier this week indicates Manteca Unified is one of a handful of California districts to purchase the device that is being used in hospitals and other medical settings.
Among others are southern California's San Bernardino City Unified School District and Alvord Unified School District. The two recently purchased 3,700 and 1,500 units respectively, in anticipation of the return of their collective 80,000 students, teachers and staff.
Manteca Unified has had students back on campus since late October. The air scrubbers were added in January.
"We've spent the last several months analyzing every facet of our organization in order to develop a comprehensive strategy designed to create a healthier environment for our students and staff," said Manteca Unified Superintendent Clark Burke. "The air quality in our area is often affected by the extensive local agricultural industry and lately, regional wildfires have also contributed to poor air quality. After reviewing a number of indoor air quality solutions available, we are confident that the OptiClean product is the right fit for our needs. By placing an OptiClean unit in each classroom, we feel that we'll not only help improve our (indoor air quality), but also provide peace of mind to our students, their parents and staff."
The decision to go with the portable Cartier OptiClean units that were designed for medical grade use was driven by a desire to build redundancy into the district’s COVID-19 safety protocols.
The units are designed for rapid deployment. They plug into a standard wall outlet and take up about three square feet of floor space.
Health experts call for optimum conditions to minimize the risk of COVID-19 being spread in a typical 900-square-foot classroom that involve air being recirculated twice in an hour. The Carrier OptiClean units can be set to recirculate are six times per hour using HEPA filters that capture particles as small as .03 microns.
Large droplets fall but smaller respiratory droplets can remain airborne for 30 plus minutes before they are dispatched via ventilation or captured by an air purification system.
The $2.8 million investment will be used to combat other concerns as well after the pandemic recedes. That includes use during flu season, wildfire season, and bad air quality days among others.
"Schools and school districts continue to evaluate the (indoor air quality) of their facilities and what can be done to help improve those environments for their students and staff," said Justin Keppy, President, NA Residential & Light Commercial, Carrier.
The OptiClean Dual-Mode Air Scrubber & Negative Air Machine has been named one of TIME's 100 Best Inventions of 2020. It was developed through rapid innovation in early 2020 to help support infectious isolation rooms in hospitals as a negative air machine.
The district has spent more than $24.1 million on date on COVID-19 related protocols and learning adjustments.
Manteca Unified is also in the process of upgrading HVAC air filters throughout the district.
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