IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Cedar Rapids Schools to Mitigate COVID with HVAC Upgrades

The Iowa school district will spend $2.2 million of $32.4 million in federal money intended for pandemic costs, as Linn County's seven-day average positivity rate is 15.2 percent and transmission is at epidemic level.

HVAC system on the ceiling
(TNS) — Cedar Rapids schools starting this week are getting upgrades to some heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems intended to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Technology called needlepoint bi-polar ionization is being added to some schools' heating, ventilation and air cooling systems to help filter particles out of the air, including viruses like COVID-19, bacteria, mold, dust, dander and smoke. The district did not identify which schools are adding the technology.

The project is being paid for from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Total cost of the equipment is approximately $1.6 million and the cost of installation will be about $600,000, said Jonathan Galbraith, the Cedar Rapids Community School District's buildings and grounds manager. The district received $32.4 million from the U.S. Department of Education and American Rescue Plan to help offset costs during the pandemic.

Air quality has been a topic of conversation since the start of the pandemic because COVID-19 can be transmitted through the air. Needlepoint bi-polar ionization is possibly one way to combat the virus. Another mitigation strategy is to wear masks.

Cedar Rapids schools reinstated a mask mandate for all students, staff and visitors Sept. 15. Masks also are required for Cedar Rapids-based day care programs, with masks encouraged during school activities beyond the school day.

Cedar Rapids school officials will consider ending the district's mask requirement for students, staff and visitors if the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the county and schools decreases.

As of Nov. 19, the last available data, 27 students and 10 staff members at Cedar Rapids schools had tested positive for the disease. The seven-day average positivity rate for in Linn County was 15.2 percent, and the transmission level of the virus was at epidemic level in the county.

While the overall positivity rate for COVID-19 in Cedar Rapids schools is less than 1 percent, 16 percent of those 17 and younger in Linn County tested positive for the virus.

The district says that to consider ending its mask mandate:

— The Linn County seven-day average positivity rate needs to drop below 14 percent;

— The transmission level of COVID-19 needs to be below epidemic level;

— The positivity rate in Cedar Rapids schools needs to be below 2 percent;

— And the reported cases among those 17 and younger in Linn County needs to be below 10 percent.

The needlepoint bi-polar ionization is a Global Plasma Solutions product. According to the company's website, the use of this technology is not intended to take the place of reasonable precautions to prevent the transmission of disease.

Te company advises it's important to comply with public health laws and government guidelines, including those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention including social distancing, hand washing and use of face masks.

Global Plasma Solutions products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration as medical devices and are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent infections or diseases caused by certain viruses or bacteria, according to a company disclaimer.

©2021 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.