By Brittany Anderson
Parents, students, teachers and school board members have gone back and forth regarding masks in schools for weeks – but there might be an extra layer of safety coming to classrooms that will satisfy everyone.
During their board meeting Monday, Hays CISD board members discussed purchasing air purifying equipment for classrooms across the district.
HCISD Chief Operational Officer Max Cleaver presented the board with information regarding the potential Novaerus NV900W air purifiers. Novaerus has been in the medical field for around 10 years and has a patent for air cleaning NanoStrike technology.
The purifiers are roughly the size of a gaming console and mount on the wall. They purify the air every 45 minutes using “capture and kill” technology that kills airborne contaminants in spaces up to 1,200 square feet, the size of an average classroom. Additionally, each unit comes with a seven-year warranty. Cleaver said that the device is 99.99% effective in killing COVID-19.
But the cost of these air purifiers is not cheap – the district is looking at a $4.1 million price tag.
Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright said the district has allocated two-thirds of the district’s Elementary and Secondary Emergency relief (ESSER) funds and reserved one-third as unallocated. The administration decided that in order to purchase the purifiers, it would use the unallocated funds from this year, plus cut year #2 intervention services.
“We approved 25 interventionists this year and we would cut those positions for year two,” Wright said. “With the unallocated funds, we would couple that money together in order to afford this.”
Cleaver said that the district would receive 1,760 units, allowing for some extra units if needed, and can expect a three-day delivery. In addition to each classroom receiving a unit, nurses offices, reception areas, art rooms, music rooms, gyms, cafeterias, libraries and athletic rooms will have units.
Cleaver confirmed that while not explicitly listed, other ‘specials’ rooms, such as technology and STEM rooms, will receive a unit. At the request of board member Esperanza Orosco, Cleaver said he will check that early learning centers (ELC) are covered as well, as they were not listed.
Cleaver said he expects around 500 hours needed to install the units, and that the goal is for the district to pay HCISD maintenance workers overtime instead of comp time to assist with the installation.
Board member Merideth Keller said that while she was shocked by the cost, she acknowledged that the technology is more economical and in the long term would be better than purchasing air purifiers that require costly HEPA filters.
“What it doesn’t look like is a backorder on filters or spending millions of dollars on electricity,” Cleaver also noted. “[The units] look like a replacement cycle for computers, but we’re only replacing those that break, which will be 5% or less. When they’re mounted on the wall where they’re not touched and bumped, they will last longer.”
The board will vote on whether or not to purchase the equipment during its Sept. 27 meeting.