COVID-19 Ventilation and Air Care at Queen’s

Building Ventilation Measures

Well-functioning building ventilation can play a role in mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission on campus. To support the anticipated increase of in-person activity on campus in September 2021, Queen’s Facilities has enhanced ventilation protocols – many of which have been in place since early 2020 - by reviewing ventilation systems and working to optimize the capabilities of these systems. 

With these enhancements in place, operations of the university's ventilation systems align with COVID-19 public health requirements and recommendations, as outlined by Public Health Ontario.

Better Ventilation

The following measures are being implemented across campus:

  1. Increasing intake of outdoor air: Ventilation systems on campus are being optimized within system capabilities to maximize the amount of outdoor air being supplied to classrooms and other building areas. Increased outdoor air supply to building spaces has been identified by Public Health Ontario as a key measure which may help in reducing the spread of COVID-19 within buildings.
  2. Increasing air exchanges by extending fan run times: Operating schedules for ventilation systems on campus are being extended to include times before and after building occupied hours. This will increase the number of daily air exchanges and ensure that spaces are well ventilated. Public Health Ontario recommends this practice to increase the amount of air exchanges within building spaces to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  3. New filters: To ensure ventilation system filtration is working optimally within system designs, new filters are being installed over the summer months and will continue to be replaced during regularly scheduled preventative maintenance routines. Routine inspections and maintenance of ventilation systems, inclusive of  system filtration, are referenced by Public Health Ontario as being helpful in reducing the spread of viruses. 
  4. Preventative maintenance: All campus ventilation systems are catalogued within our Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and receive regular preventative maintenance service routines including filter changes, inspections and repairs as needed. Facilities has prioritized ventilation fan system preventative maintenance measures on air handlers. 
  5. Classroom windows: A review of several classrooms with operable windows is underway and repairs are being made to allow these to be used weather-permitting.
  6. Air purifiers: Local air purifications systems are being installed in classrooms which do not currently have ventilation systems. 

More than 400 classroom ventilation systems – covering all classroom spaces on campus – have been reviewed in detail by the Facilities engineering team to determine current ventilation rates and to explore methods to increase air exchange rates in these classrooms. Optimizing classroom ventilation systems has been prioritized in preparation for increased campus activity in September. 

What you can do

  1. Get vaccinated. Public Health recommends this as a key COVID-19 control measure.
  2. Follow recommended Public Health practices. This may include the use of masks, distancing, hand sanitation and staying home when you are ill.
  3. Open windows. The use of operable windows during favourable weather conditions is encouraged as an additional way to bring more outside air into classroom and other building spaces.
  4. Avoid fans and window AC units. The use of personal desk fans, low ceiling fans, window air conditioners, and other devices which could create high velocity air flows in open office spaces or other shared spaces is being discouraged. If window AC units must be used, the recommendation is to direct air flow away from occupants in the space. 
  5. Report ventilation issues. Let the Queen’s Facilities team know if there is a ventilation issue affecting your workspace.

Measures such as vaccinations, masking, cleaning, and good hygiene are critical components of a comprehensive strategy against COVID-19 transmission. Well-functioning HVAC systems support this strategy by removing and diluting aerosols that may contain viruses from indoor spaces; however, it is important to note that optimal air ventilation systems alone cannot eliminate the risk from COVID-19 transmission during close contact exposures. 

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