British Columbia Covid-19 and Schools Update

In a flurry of announcements this week that included the Ministers of Health, Education, Advanced Education and Skills Training, the Provincial Health Officer, and the Premier, the BC government reinstated previous Covid-19 safety measures and introduced new measures in response to the rising number of cases.

As of August 15, masks will once again be required for indoor public spaces. Additionally, as of September 13, 2021 proof of vaccination will be required for indoor activities including but not limited to weddings, concerts, casinos, restaurants, and fitness centers. The Province will be rolling out a vaccine card to manage this new measure. Details still to come.

Included in the wave of Covid-19 updates, Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education, announced that $87.5 million in provincial and federal funding has been invested for air quality improvements in schools and that 44 of 60 BC school districts have upgraded their HVAC systems. Further, The Vancouver School Board has reported that every school in the district has upgraded central air and room ventilation systems with MERV 13 filters, one of the key recommendations from HRAI’s school specific guidelines published earlier this year. Click here to read HRAI IAQ report.

In BC, HRAI has engaged with the Province and the Vancouver School board, sharing these school specific guidelines with ministers, school board trustees, and bureaucrats. We’re pleased to see industry expertise recognized and the implementation of important recommendations.

HRAI continues to provide expertise and guidance on ventilation and indoor air quality for government organizations across the country.

To recap, last October, HRAI established an Expert Advisory Panel on Indoor Air Quality in Commercial and Institutional Buildings. With schools as its first priority, the committee prepared a guidance document (click here) for school boards and educational authorities to take into account when making investment decisions related to maintaining or improving indoor air quality in school buildings. This document has been shared widely with government decision makers since its publication.

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