"Response" from Provincial Government to Open Letter Concerning Indoor Air Quality
We've received a response from the Provincial Government to our open letter -- one that was incredibly disappointing and fails to address our concerns regarding indoor air quality in schools and on school buses in Ontario.
For accessibility reasons, we're providing the text of the response below, but have provided a copy of the actual response as well.
We're heading to Queen's Park on June 7th for a 10:00 AM press conference to once again request a meeting to address our concerns about indoor air quality, and to announce the retaining of our legal counsel to advise us of our legal options. Tune in and amplify on social media! You can also contact your local health and education reporter to encourage them to attend.
Ministry of Education Ministère de l’Éducation
Capital and Business Support Division Division du soutien aux immobilisations et aux affaires
315 Front Street West 315, rue Front Ouest
15th Floor 15e étage
Toronto ON M7A 0B8 Toronto (Ontario) M7A 0B8
May 25, 2023 157-2023-3347
Thank you for your email dated May 16, 2023 regarding the Indoor Air Quality in schools and school buses. Your email has been forwarded to me and I appreciate the opportunity to respond.
Since August 2020, the government has allocated over $665 million in provincial and federal funding to improve ventilation and filtration in schools, resulting in improvements to existing ventilation systems, deployment of approx. 100,000 standalone HEPA filter units, upgrades to school ventilation infrastructure and increased transparency for students, parents and staff.
This is in addition to approx. $1.4 billion to maintain and renew school facilities, which can be used by school boards for ventilation-related projects, including HVAC systems and windows. For the 2022-23 school year, school boards are expected to continue to implement ventilation best practice measures [outlined in 2021:B14 School Ventilation] as applicable in the context of each school facility. HEPA units are required in every occupied kindergarten class, in all occupied learning spaces without mechanical ventilation, and in mechanically ventilated learning spaces without MERV-13 level filters.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can serve as a proxy measure for overall ventilation but is not a measure of COVID-19 transmission risk. To be done properly, CO2 monitoring requires expertise and communication. School boards can choose to use CO2 sensors, such as CO2 monitors integrated with building automation systems or standalone sensors, to help identify less well-ventilated areas to prioritize for mitigation measures, but reading interpretation and mitigation decisions should be made with consideration of issues identified in Public Health Ontario’s guidance: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems in Buildings and COVID-19.
Information on individual schools can be found through standardized ventilation improvement measure reports posted on every school board’s website.
With respect to your concerns regarding air quality in school buses, please note that local student transportation consortia plan, manage, and procure student transportation services on behalf of its member school boards to best meet the needs of their students. It is the responsibility of bus operators that own the bus fleet to make sure that the buses are safe, well-maintained and comply with applicable standards as required (and enforced) by the province of Ontario.
The ministry continues to work collaboratively with school boards and transportation consortia to support improvements to ventilation and filtration to ensure schools and school buses remain as safe as possible for all.
Assistant Deputy Minister
Capital and Business Support Division