During Spring Break the first week of April, Lehi Elementary got a special delivery to improve the air quality in the classrooms at the school.
“As an ER nurse and as a mom of school-aged kids, making sure all children are able to stay healthy and enjoy an uninterrupted education is something that I’m really passionate about,” said Tricia Bunderson. In August 2021before the school year started, Bunderson was part of a group of parents, teachers, and other community members who formed a nonprofit named Concerned Coalition. “Our goal is to advocate for evidence-based public health policies in schools.”
In January 2022, Concerned Coalition found that there was $96 million in federal COVID-19 grant funding available to the state of Utah to help schools operate safely. At the time, the money had mostly gone unused. One of the approved uses for the funds was to upgrade ventilation in classrooms.
“I contacted Mr. Brunner about the possibility of applying for the grant and using the funds to improve ventilation in our 70-year-old school,” Bunderson explained. “He was very receptive and proactive, and together with the State Health Department, we were able to procure 40 portable HEPA filtration units for each classroom at Lehi Elementary.”
Research has shown that one of the most impactful, yet invisible ways to decrease SARS-CoV-2 transmission (and other viruses) is by improving ventilation in enclosed indoor spaces. In September 2021, “improved indoor air quality” was included in the American Pandemic Preparedness Plan. Recently the Environmental Protection Agency launched the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, which includes a practical guide for businesses and homeowners to create an action plan for cleaner indoor air.
“Not only will these air purifiers help with any future waves of COVID-19, but they can also help with allergies, winter inversion, pollution, wildfire smoke, and other viruses,” Bunderson explained.
“I’m grateful to have had a small hand in doing something to help our school. I count myself lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful teachers, administrators, students, and fellow parents,” said Bunderson.