From improving air quality to installing hundreds of water bottle re-filling stations, the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) continues with its commitment to ensuring schools remain a safe and healthy place for staff and students this school year.  

After receiving more than $10 million through the Ontario’s COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Fund, the UCDSB has purchased 445 electric power-door operators with touchless sensors, replaced more than 400 drinking fountains with water bottle refilling stations, as well as completed renovations within schools to support the COVID-19 response.  

The province also provided an additional $1.7 million in funding to the UCDSB to ensure all schools align with the Ministry of Education’s guidelines for ventilation for school boards.   

“Over the past several months, our school board staff have been researching, purchasing and coordinating the installation of hundreds of pieces of equipment in our schools,” explained Executive Superintendent of Business Services Jeremy Hobbs, adding that the measures taken go well beyond the provincial requirements.  

The UCDSB needed 289 high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units in order to meet ministry standards. However, the UCDSB has purchased 2,230 HEPA units – with 1,996 to be in place in schools by the start of the school year.    

Here are other initiatives implemented within the UCDSB to continue to improve air quality in its schools:  

  • It was already UCDSB practice to use the highest rated filters possible in its ventilation systems, and the school board will continue to do that in addition to more frequent changing of filters.   
  • All JK/SK classrooms will have at least one HEPA unit, even if there is mechanical ventilation already in place.   
  • Fresh airflow will be increased during the day and all ventilation systems will operate for two hours before and after school use.   
  • Daily monitoring of controls to verify ventilation systems are operating to maintain maximum level of ventilation in occupied areas and temperatures are controlled.   
On top of these measures, the UCDSB has 19 ventilation projects planned for the 2021-2022 school year. Ventilation upgrades will be a focus of future capital upgrade projects as well.  

“The $550 million that the Ontario Government has invested to support over 50,000 HEPA units and over 2,000 infrastructure improvements will go a long way in making sure that schools remain open and remain safe for everyone this year,” said Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “I hope the significant number of local school ventilation upgrades will help to ease any concerns that parents, families, and staff might have as students return to school next week.”

“The health and safety of our staff and students are a top priority for the UCDSB, especially as we continue to navigate through this pandemic,” says UCDSB Chair John McAllister. “We’re proud that we’ve taken measures that go above and beyond the guidelines and ensure our schools remain safe places to learn, play and grow.”