Even with federal funds, US schools still rely on low-cost methods to slow Covid, a study shows.

In addition to federal funding, US schools reported that they were relying on low-cost strategies to improve ventilation and slow the spread of the coronavirus, according to a study published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The measures include holding outside activities, opening doors and windows, and inspecting existing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, the study said.

Only about one-third of public schools reported taking costlier steps such as replacing or upgrading their HVAC systems. Fewer than one in three said they used high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems in classrooms and cafeterias.

Schools that serve children in the poorest American communities are slightly more likely to be replaced or upgraded than HVAC systems with those serving communities of moderate levels of poverty, the study found. Almost half of schools serving the poorest communities – and close to half of schools serving the wealthiest communities – had replaced or upgraded their HVAC systems, compared with only one-third of schools with medium levels of poverty. The poorest schools were also more likely to be inspected and validated than their HVAC systems with schools of moderate levels.

The authors of the CDC report suggest that while schools in wealthier areas may already have resources to upgrade their systems, high-poverty areas in schools may have more experience accessing and using federal funds for such purposes.

Thirty-five percent to 44 percent of schools in the poorest communities reported using HEPA filtration systems in places where children were eating and in classroom and high-risk areas, and 36 percent to 50 percent of schools serving communities reported lower levels of use with HEPA. filters in those areas.

By contrast, only one in four or five schools serving communities with medium levels of poverty reported using HEPA filters in those places.

The study was based on a nationally representative sample of 420 K-12 public schools, using data collected between Feb. 14 and March 27 from the National School Covid-19 Prevention Study. The sampling framework consisted of public schools from all 50 states and the District of Columbia; This is a web-based survey distributed to school administrators.

Only 26 percent of schools that received the survey in February and March responded, however. The percentage of students eligible for free or discounted meals was used to determine the community poverty level of each school.

Location was also correlated with measures taken to improve ventilation: Rural schools were less likely to use portable HEPA filtration systems than schools in cities and suburbs.

Schools in cities, on the other hand, were less likely to open windows than rural, suburban or town schools, possibly because of concerns about noise and air pollution (some may also have windows that do not open). City schools were also less likely to use fans to increase the movement of air when they did open windows.

“Additional efforts may be required to ensure that all schools successfully access and use resources for ventilation improvements,” the authors wrote, especially in rural areas and those with moderate levels of poverty.

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