Air upgrades for area schools in Dundas County

Morrisburg Public School received nine standalone HEPA filter units as part of board-wide air filtration upgrades at the Upper Canada District School Board. The board has added nearly 2,000 units since the Ontario government began funding the upgrades as part of its strategy to make schools safer during the COVID-19 pandemic. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

SOUTH DUNDAS – Students return to class in less than a week and when they do, many classrooms will have new standalone HEPA filter units among other upgrades.

More than 600 new standalone HEPA filter units are in the latest round of upgrades to schools in the four school boards serving Eastern Ontario.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario’s Ministry of Education has spent money on upgrading air filtration systems in schools. This includes mechanical air systems and adding standalone filter units in classrooms.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell tells The Leader that the latest announcement from the province added another $25 million in funding and equipment to the $600 million already spent on these upgrades.

Breaking down the spending, the Upper Canada District School Board received 147 new standalone units. The board also got $58,000 in new funding for supplies like replacement filters or mechanical upgrades. The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario gained 178 new HEPA filter units and $30,000 for materials. The Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (French-Public) got 192 new HEPA units, the largest amount of the four school boards. As well, the CEPEO also got $45,000 for supplies. The Le Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien (French-Catholic) board got 116 classroom units and $32,000.

McDonell said in August that the new units were being immediately sent to school boards, bringing the province-wide total to 70,000 units.

Local upgrades by the UCDSB have added more than 150 new HEPA filter units to schools in Dundas County through this program, and previous upgrades. According to the board, all seven schools have received upgrades to mechanical ventilation systems as well.

Seaway District High School now has 38 of the HEPA filter units in the school, Iroquois Public School 20, and Morrisburg Public School has nine.

In North Dundas, Winchester Public School has 18 HEPA filter units, Nationview Public School 17, Chesterville Public School 10, and North Dundas District High School 42.

In all, the UCDSB added almost 2,000 new HEPA filter units, with another 230 due to arrive later this year.

Few details are available outlining upgrades to CDSBEO schools. The board’s website says in its 76-page re-opening plan that all classrooms will have HEPA filter units.

The Leader contacted the CDSBEO and the two French boards for more details. All three boards did not respond by publication deadline.

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