We have made the following upgrades to our facilities to mitigate the risk of virus transmission:
Bipolar Ionization Filtration
Given that there is notable evidence that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted by both contact transmission (touching surfaces) and also aerosol transmission (small droplets that hang in the air for a period of time), we installed virus filtration and killing technologies at all our campuses. Most of the heating/cooling units at Hawken have been fitted with a bipolar ionization filtration technology that uses ionized oxygen molecules to act as magnets to collect microscopic particles, including viruses, bacteria, mold, pollen, and dust into larger (agglomerated) masses that can then be filtered out. As air moves through our air handling systems, it will be cleaned and sterilized of viral load. This technology has been shown to remove the following viruses from a room within 20-30 minutes:
1. 99.5% of SARS
2. 99.9% of Influenza A
3. 99.9% of the highly contagious measles
In addition to removing viruses from the air, a recent study strongly suggests that the sustained presence of this ionized air has a sterilization effect for COVID-19 on surfaces as well.
UVC light sterilization
In some instances, it made more sense for us to use UVC light sterilization to kill the COVID-19 virus. When UVC light comes in contact with the virus, it is highly effective. The range of uses for UVC light sterilization is more limited.
HVAC Systems Filtration
Most air handling mechanical equipment is designed to utilize filtration systems that are fiberglass with little filtration or HEPA style media filters that offer at best a MERV 8 level a of filtration. In parallel with bipolar ionization, most of the mechanical air moving equipment has been upgraded to a Level 13 MERV rating filtration that is the highest level of HEPA filtration that the equipment will handle.
All drinking fountains have been closed down and shut off in the Lower and Middle schools. Touchless water bottle filling stations have been installed to replace many of these water fountains. Every student must bring to school a personal water bottle that is clearly marked with their name to keep with them throughout the day for hydration. Teachers will work with students on how to take safe water breaks. Some guidance may include: further distance from others within a classroom space, stepping outside the classroom, or coordinated breaks outside (i.e. after recess).