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More schools are adding commercial air purifiers to classrooms before students return

School districts across the state have spent millions of dollars on air purifiers for their buildings.

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. — For Groves Academy, getting ready for in-person learning means bringing in brand new equipment to help keep students and staff safe.

A crew from St. Paul-based company ISO-Aire delivered 60 commercial air purifiers to the private school on Wednesday. President Dan Morgan says putting one machine in each classroom and common area will help protect students and staff from getting sick.

"It's going to make a big difference of course for COVID and the safety that we're looking at in that space but also just in general, these kinds of systems can really provide a lot of cleanliness into the room that can take care of other challenges," Morgan said. "Colds, flus, allergies as well and we actually expect attendance to go up and increase across the board."

Each purifier costs around $1,500 but Morgan says federal funding covered the entire bill.

As other schools consider making their own purchases, top aerosol scientist and University of Minnesota mechanical engineering professor Chris Hogan says air purifiers can be helpful as long as buildings have an air change rate of 4 or less.

"There's a number you're looking for with recirculating air purification units, it's called the clean air delivery rate," Morgan said. "The higher that number is, the better the unit is doing at bringing in clean air."

Groves facilities director Todd Olson says he researched several companies before opting for ISO-Aire. Its machines use High Efficiency Particulate Air filters, which is the type the CDC recommends.

"I was able to go to the manufacturing plant and look at how these were made, look at these parts individually," Olson said. "The fans that are installed into these units, when I looked at how the other ones were manufactured they were much smaller ... I didn't feel like they would have done the job that we need them to do."

School districts across the state have spent millions on air purifiers for their buildings. For example: Minneapolis ordered 1,300 units, spending more than $2.2 million. Anoka-Hennepin spent $1.2 million on air filtration units. St. Paul bought 700 air purifiers at a cost of just over half a million dollars. Most of the money came from the federal CARES Act.

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