Legislation in Congress that may still be acted upon before the end of the year is calling for up to $100 billion in grants to fund school ventilation system upgrades across the country.
The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act will also provide
$30 billion in bond authority for schools with ventilation issues in lower-income districts.
The legislation, as introduced by Virginia Representative Bobby Scott and Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, is partly in response to a report issued earlier this summer by the federal Government Accountability Office.
That report noted that roughly 36,000 public schools are in need of new or updated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
Those schools, continued the report, represent around 40% of all of the nation’s school districts.
In an open letter, Elizabeth Beardsley, senior policy counsel at the U.S. Green Building Council, along with several other industry experts, noted that since the Covid-19 outbreak, school officials have been focusing on such initiatives as the spacing of desks, cleaning, and requiring all students and staff to wear masks.
But, asserted Beardsley, “School facilities also require attention.”
As proposed, the Reopen and Rebuild legislation will “invest construction funds, targeted at high-poverty school facilities that put the health of students and their staffs most at risk,” said Scott in a statement.
The legislation, which has been folded into a larger infrastructure bill, has been approved in the House and is now awaiting action in the Senate.
By Garry Boulard
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