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2021-22 School Operations: Ventilation and Air Quality

The school board will continue to optimize air quality in classrooms and learning environments through improving ventilation and/or filtration. Ventilation is one layer of the protective strategies that will be utilized to support healthy and safe learning environments for students and staff. Additional measures such as masking, physical distancing and hand hygiene must also be followed. 

Best Practices

The UGDSB will follow best practices with regards to ventilation and air quality, as detailed below.

For buildings/rooms that rely on natural ventilation/no HVAC system, best practices include:

For buildings/rooms that rely on mechanical ventilation/HVAC systems, best practices include:

All UGDSB Schools

The school board will continue its work optimizing air quality in classrooms and learning environments through improving ventilation and filtration. Upgrades to ventilation and filtration systems began in the 2020-21 school year and will continue for the 2021-22 school year. 

All schools are encouraged to support outdoor education where possible and open windows where this augments ventilation for classrooms and learning environments.

All UGDSB schools have full or partial mechanical ventilation, with the vast majority of schools having full mechanical ventilation. *Full mechanical ventilation means that all areas of the school that students would occupy are fully mechanically ventilated. Partial mechanical ventilation means that some areas of the building have mechanical ventilation (e.g. newer parts in a building) whereas other areas in the school do not have mechanical ventilation (e.g. older parts of a building). 

The following schools have partial mechanical ventilation:

The following schools have full mechanical ventilation with the exception of the area listed in brackets:

All other schools in the UGDSB have full mechanical ventilation. 

Prior to the start of the school year, the board will assess all school ventilation systems to ensure they are in good working order and will meet the Ministry requirements for full and partial mechanical ventilation. The board will also implement measures over and above Ministry requirements (see below). 

Full Mechanical Ventilation

Following the Ministry guidance, for schools with full mechanical ventilation the UGDSB will: 

Partial Mechanical Ventilation

In the learning areas of schools without mechanical ventilation, the UGDSB will place standalone High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration units in all classrooms/learning spaces without mechanical ventilation. These units ensure particle filtration of air. These units are sized for the classroom or learning space that is being used. In larger classrooms and learning space, more than one HEPA unit may be placed.

Standalone HEPA Filtration Units

The Ministry requires that school boards place standalone HEPA units in:

Distribution of HEPA Units 

Partially Ventilated Schools – as required by the Ministry, units will be placed in rooms with no mechanical ventilation as follows:

As required by the Ministry, in schools with full mechanical ventilation units will be placed as follows:

Additional UGDSB Measures

The UGDSB has procured more than 2,200 HEPA filtration units to date that will be deployed in our schools.  In addition to meeting the requirements above, the UGDSB is going beyond current Ministry recommendations by including standalone HEPA filtration units in all Grades K-8 classrooms and portables, Secondary classrooms, including our Continuing Education sites, as well as classrooms that run our life skills (Developmentally Delayed) classes (elementary and secondary). 

Introduction of Standardized School Ventilation Measures Report

For the 2021-22 school year, the Ministry is launching a standardized ventilation report. School boards will be required to communicate school-level ventilation measures centrally on their school board website. This will enhance transparency for school communities, including students, parents and staff, and provide consistent communication across the province. The information may include whether: ventilation has been inspected, measures in place in each school (such as use of higher grade filters, frequency of filter changes, HVAC systems are running longer, standalone HEPA filter units installed, windows are being opened, etc.).

To view the UGDSB Ventilation Report, please click here.

Measuring Ventilation

As an additional measure beyond the provincial requirements for ventilation, the UGDSB will be conducting air flow monitoring in schools. This process was started in the 2020-21 school year and will be continued in the 2021-22 school year. In order to ensure that the ventilation system is working properly and to find out where we may have to supplement air quality by providing filtration equipment (e.g. HEPA filtration units), the UGDSB is choosing to actively compare the CO2 levels in classrooms while they are occupied to measures outdoors. This will give us an indicator for the amount of fresh air being brought into the classroom by the ventilation system or via natural ventilation. The UGDSB process involves board staff going to all school sites and classrooms at regular intervals throughout the school year, and taking a measure of the CO2 levels when students and staff are present. While staff are present on site, they will also inspect classroom windows and screens to ensure they can be used as natural ventilation. Staff will also check that ventilation grills are not obstructed and can therefore work effectively. 

Where issues are identified, the board will implement strategies to either address the issue or to implement mitigating measures. In situations where work cannot be completed right away, the board will install standalone filtration units.

Some schools have built-in CO2 monitoring systems, whereas other schools do not. Therefore the UGDSB will actively measure air flow at all school sites so that all schools are treated equally, regardless of their access to built-in monitoring systems. 

Please note that monitoring air flow can serve as a proxy measure for overall ventilation but is not a measure of COVID-19 transmission risk. 

September Start Up for HVAC Systems

In addition to the UGDSB measures detailed above, and in preparation for the start of classes, the UGDSB will:

Federal and Provincial Funding – School Based Projects

In the 2020-21 school year, school boards received funding to support COVID-related upgrades, including ventilation projects, scheduled to be completed by December 2021 or later. 

The UGDSB received funding for 44 projects related to ventilation in this program. 

20 school projects involve work including rooftop HVAC unit upgrades, ventilation upgrades and BAS system upgrades (schools are listed below). These projects are designed, tendered and under construction. Board staff anticipates completion of all 20 projects by December 31, 2021.

Rooftop Ventilation Unit Upgrades:

Control System Upgrades:

Ventilation Upgrades:

24 projects were submitted for duct sealing and upgrades to portable ventilation units. 19 of these projects are portable upgrades, which are proceeding and are anticipated to be completed by school start-up. Five of these projects were submitted for duct and ventilation inspections and are expected to be completed by December 2021. 

Portable HVAC Upgrades:

These projects are underway at 19 sites across the board, and are listed below.  All are scheduled to be inspected and minor repairs completed by August 30, with any remaining repairs being completed in September. 

The scope of the work included:


Number of Portables

Centre Dufferin DHS


College Heights SS


Credit Meadows ES


Erin DHS (Multi-Use Facility)


Glenbrook ES


Island Lake PS


Jean Little PS


John McCrae PS


Ken Danby PS


Kenilworth PS


Maryborough PS


Mitchell Woods PS


Mono-Amaranth PS


Montgomery Village PS


Salem PS


Sir Isaac Brock PS


Waverley Drive PS


Wellington Heights SS


Westside SS




Duct and Ventilation Inspections:

This work will take place at five secondary sites: College Heights SS, Centennial CVI, John F. Ross CVI, Norwell DSS and Orangeville DSS.

The scope of the work includes:

Other Ventilation Funding Allocations