A HEPA purifier is seen at F.H. Collins Secondary School. (Submitted/Yukon government)

A HEPA purifier is seen at F.H. Collins Secondary School. (Submitted/Yukon government)

559 HEPA purifiers delivered to Yukon schools

Yukon government says each classroom-sized space is getting a HEPA purifier

Every Yukon school was equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) purifiers for each classroom-sized space by the first day of school, according to the Education department.

The territorial government has dealt out hundreds of HEPA air purifiers to Yukon schools since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

In an email, a spokesperson for the department of Education said 559 HEPA air purifiers and replacement filters have been handed out to cover every classroom-sized space in schools across the territory.

The department said it has procured Dyson Purifier Cool Autoreact Fans (model number TP7A) for schools.

In the statement, of the $289,900 spent on the initiative in total over three years, less than $3,000 comes from the Yukon government and the remainder comes from the federal government’s indoor air top-up of the safe return to class fund.

“All schools have centralized ventilation systems,” Clarissa Wall said in the department’s statement. “However, some school settings include annex learning spaces, such as portables, which are not connected to the central ventilation.”

Wall clarified that those spaces are still ventilated.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidance on indoor ventilation during the pandemic, the virus that causes COVID-19 is spread through droplets and aerosols that particularly present a risk in enclosed spaces and indoor spaces in which people are close to each other.

In the federal agency’s guidance, in addition to limiting the number of people in a place at the same time, keeping physical distance of at least two metres, wearing proper masks and practising proper hand and respiratory hygiene, adequate ventilation can help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

“It’s important to remember that good indoor ventilation alone cannot protect people from exposure to the virus, particularly: during close unprotected contact [and] in the absence of other protective measures,” reads the guidance.

Masks and physical distancing are no longer required in Yukon schools. Vaccinations are being encouraged.

“If fresh air input from mechanical ventilation is not adequate and natural ventilation isn’t possible, consider avoiding the area and moving to a better-ventilated space,” the guidance states.

“If this isn’t possible, the use of portable air filtration devices with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters could be considered, if used in combination with established public health infection control measures.”

Contact Dana Hatherly at dana.hatherly@yukon-news.com