Return Stronger: School Ventilation Update

Shelby County Schools is working to ensure our buildings are safe when educators and students return to in-person learning. Protective ventilation is an essential component as we prioritize the health of students and employees. “We’ve followed all CDC guidance, expressed Chief of Business Operations Genard Phillips. “Our buildings are clean and we’re running our ventilation system to maximum capacity so we can bring as much fresh air as possible to make sure we are purging out any airborne pathogens in buildings.” 

Following last year’s request by Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray to Governor Bill Lee, asking for funds to help improve air quality in our schools, the District is preparing to implement new Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (NPBI) Technology aimed to help kill the virus and filter it out of the system. Considering the additional COVID relief funding allocated by the State of Tennessee, the District has proposed the use of ESSER 2.0 dollars to support the NPBI technology investment. In addition to these protective ventilation investments in technology, SCS continues to maximize use of our current HVAC systems with ongoing servicing and repairs to maintain the best indoor air-quality and performance.

“We want to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other common viruses as much as possible,” noted Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray. “We are taking all necessary steps to clean and service our HVAC systems with a focus on this new technology and air filtration which mitigates the spread of airborne pathogens. This is one more measure – an extra layer of protection.”

Our safety protocols for returning to school buildings are universal for every school, as seen on page six of the Superintendent's recent presentation to the School Board. However, each school’s principal has outlined operational procedures that align with their building space and staff will assist in maintaining CDC guidelines. 

“I’m pleased to learn more about the ventilation technology because that was a concern for us, making sure we had that air quality system in place,” said President of the United Education Association of Shelby County, Danette Stokes. “I’m glad to know that there will be equitable air-quality protection in every building.”

To learn more about the District’s S.A.F.E. Re-Entry plan, click here.


The SCS Business Operations team has worked diligently since the onset of the pandemic to enhance maintenance and cleaning protocols. 

What We’ve Done (Completed Operations)

  • Deep cleaned, disinfected and performed indoor air quality tests in all schools and District office buildings
  • Completed MERV-9 filter change cycles for all HVAC systems
  • Extended the schedule for fresh air intake of HVAC systems in schools to begin 2 hours before bell time and end 2 hours after the end of day to maximize fresh air intake
  • Confirmed HVAC systems fresh air intake rates are set to meet/exceed ASHRAE standards
  • Performed indoor air quality tests to assess and measure the level of airborne contaminants present in our environments
  • Researched and evaluated various HVAC indoor air quality improvement options

What We’re Currently Doing (Current Operations)

  • Servicing and maintaining all HVAC systems
  • Performing MERV-9 filter replacements on all HVAC systems
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of all schools and District office buildings daily
  • Conducting a RFQ for needlepoint bipolar ionization (NPBI) technology implementation

What’s Next (Future Operations)

  • Planning to invest and implement the NPBI technology following a successful bid and vendor selection process
  • Proposing to use ESSER 2.0 funding to support the NPBI technology investment

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