Classroom Ventilation

Dear Twin Cities deans and department heads,

We write to provide you an update regarding air quality measures for Twin Cities campus classrooms.

In May 2020, we created a task force of Facilities Management (FM) engineers, University Health and Safety (UHS) professionals and faculty experts to evaluate our classrooms’ HVAC systems. They reviewed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) on operating each classroom building’s HVAC capacities.

HVAC systems are designed with many factors such as space size, occupancy, percentage of outside air, air balance within a building and activities / hazards that will be present in the space. Key guidance includes the following layering approach to reduce risk:

  • Ensuring HVAC systems are operating in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and meet building code standards, conducting all regularly scheduled inspections and maintenance procedures.
  • Maximizing the amount of outside air supplied.
  • Increasing HVAC system run time to circulate more fresh air before/after occupancy.
  • Installing more efficient air filters where feasible.
  • Utilizing portable air cleaners with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters or other air cleaning technologies to provide or supplement existing building systems to meet air quality guidelines.

The majority (over 600) of the approximately 780 classrooms (counting every room on the Twin Cities campus with an academic course assigned to it in Ad Astra) met the required guidance. The remaining (approximately 160) rooms will meet this guidance with the addition of FM-purchased and installed portable air filtration units. FM is responsible for changing filters and maintaining units that serve classroom spaces. Thus all classrooms will meet CDC, OSHA, and ASHRAE guidelines. If you have remaining concerns about the HVAC systems in your classroom, you may again reach out to the Office of Classroom Management to explore a potential room change, although this may require a shift of day/time based on room availability.

We know that there will continue to be questions. Please direct your questions as noted below:

  • If the building’s HVAC systems or installed temporary air filtration units are not functioning, please call 612-624-2900 and FM will address the issue.
  • For other questions/concerns, contact UHS at 612-626-6002 or [email protected].

Please remember that the most important step we all can take to protect our community from the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a mask. Under the University’s current face covering protocol, masks are required indoors in all University buildings; for masking support, please visit the University Health and Safety Mask Support Program. Also know that FM continues to clean classrooms daily and provides disinfectant wipes at classroom entrances so students may clean their work surfaces.

As we look forward to the start of classes in two weeks, we welcome any additional questions or concerns you may have.

Sincerely yours,

Rachel T.A. Croson
Executive Vice President and Provost

Michael Berthelsen
Vice President for University Services

email sent to Twin Cities deans and department heads on August 23, 2021