Memorial recognizes ventilation is a control to minimize the spread of COVID-19. An important consideration is that good ventilation is just one of the many layers of protection against virus spread, which includes high vaccination rates, proper wearing of masks, use of rapid testing, staying home if you have symptoms, physical distancing, proper cough etiquette and more.
The Office of the Chief Risk Officer (OCRO) established a COVID-19 Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) working group to review and consider implementation of technical recommendations to enhance building ventilation systems and reduce the risk of airborne aerosol exposure. The working group includes representatives from: Facilities Management on St. John’s, Marine Institute and Grenfell campuses and OCRO. The working group's findings can be found here.
The working group members are qualified professionals with knowledge, education and experience in working and managing HVAC systems, Health and Safety and Industrial Hygiene. These individuals are professional HVAC Engineers and Health and Safety Professionals who evaluated the systems with a focus on occupant safety during the COVID -19 pandemic. To date, one classroom has been removed from use because it does not meet ventilation standards.
There are numerous sources of information regarding ventilation and transmission; during the COVID-19 pandemic Memorial is following guidance from multiple sources including the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) pandemic taskforce recommendations, Public Health Agency of Canada and the Centre for Disease Control.
Literature sources consistently recommend an approach of:
- Increasing air filtration, while still maintaining comfortable indoor air temperature and humidity
- Regular maintenance of building HVAC systems; and
- Opening windows or doors where possible or feasible