Strengthening Ventilation in Schools

The health and safety of the students and staff of Fort McMurray Catholic Schools is our top priority. The ventilation systems are maintained by full time certified HVAC technicians who follow an extensive preventive maintenance schedule to ensure all systems are functioning as intended. Those systems are all connected to our Building Management System (BMS) that controls and monitors the building’s mechanical system and alerts our technicians if a system is not functioning properly.  

In December 2021, the Northern and Southern Alberta Chapters of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) issued recommendations (available here) to support the mitigation of airborne viral particles. The Fort McMurray Catholic School Division is following those most recent recommendations and has installed MERV 13 rated filters in the air recirculating systems at all Division sites. This process was fully completed early in 2022. 

The use of supplemental in room HEPA air cleaners is only supported by the ASHRAE guidance if the primary system does not provide the suggested MERV 13 level of filtration. Health Canada is also advising against the use of portable HEPA air cleaners as a replacement for proper indoor ventilation. The Alberta Government has neither recommended nor endorsed the use of portable HEPA air cleaners in classrooms. 

We have strengthened our already robust HVAC systems so their performance is enhanced meeting ASHRAE recommendations. The MERV 13 filters allow the HVAC system to operate as intended and designed. This is a long-term solution that strengthens HVAC functioning in an enduring way.