At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a handful of big corporations announced plans for long term remote work. The rest of the population, including school-going children, remained at home and joined online classes.
Today, states across the US are planning to re-open schools. Several questions need answers before re-opening.
Is it safe to re-open? Can schools guarantee safety to the students and teachers against COVID-19 transmission? Are air purifiers effective in trapping and killing coronavirus? Can schools use air purifiers to prevent transmission of coronavirus?
At the moment, there is no perfect plan for re-opening schools. Schools have immense challenges, including limited budgets. As such, it’s unlikely that schools may respond to potential outbreaks correctly. The good news is schools can guarantee safety to staff and students by adhering to strict control measures.
One of those strict measures is an air purifier for every classroom.
- Which Types of Classrooms Need an Air Purifier?
- How to Ensure Healthy Classrooms?
- List of The 7 Best Air Purifier for Classroom
- Buying Guide
If you’re in a hurry, check out our best picks:
Why Are Air Purifiers Needed for Classrooms?
According to an article published on Bostonglobe, air purifiers can keep school buildings safe from coronavirus. But the first step to preventing the airborne spread of coronavirus is to inspect the school’s ventilation system.
The first step is to outfit the ventilation system with MERV-13 or higher grade filters. These filters can trap the virus while ensuring students and teachers breath in clean air all day.
Experts recommend using portable HEPA based indoor air purifiers if the building has no HVAC systems. These purifiers can trap and remove 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. For purifiers with H13 HEPA, they can remove airborne particles as small as 0.1 microns.
Experts from the University of Colorado and Harvard University developed a calculator. It shows whether an air purifier will meet the standards recommended by experts.
So, why are air purifiers needed for classrooms? Besides providing clean, fresh air to students, teachers, and the rest of the staff, they can:
- Reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission
- Control allergens
- Prevent asthma attacks
- Absorb harmful chemicals
- Neutralize unpleasant odors
To experience these benefits and more, school administrations must place the air purifier in an open area. This allows free airflow from all sides and enables the air purifier to draw unfiltered air and distribute clean, fresh air.
Which Types of Classrooms Need an Air Purifier?
American schools are contemplating re-opening after fleeing classrooms under threat of COVID-19. Officials are focusing on areas the virus can spread. These areas include bathrooms, offices, elevators, heating, ventilation, cooling systems, and classrooms.
Wearing masks, disinfecting surfaces and washing hands is necessary besides placing air purifiers in all classrooms. So, which types of classrooms need an air purifier?
- Lower-grade and kindergarten classes
- Upper-grade classes
- Music rooms
- Computer labs
Lower Grade and Kindergarten Classes
In lower grade and kindergarten classes, the students are mobile all day. They also spend much of the day near or on the floor. Young students in these classrooms are less likely to follow the rules and regulations. This is true when such regulations include wearing masks, washing hands, physical distancing, and more.
To reduce COVID-19 transmissions, schools need to place air purifiers in lower grade classes.
By doing so, not only will the purifier reduce the level of contamination in the air. But it will reduce the spread of the virus and infection rate. Besides air purifiers, teachers need to place a hand sanitizer bottle to encourage students to disinfect their hands.
Unlike kindergarten classes where students are more mobile, upper-grade students are less mobile. They also don’t spend much of their day on or near the floor. The good news is that students in these classes can understand the schools’ rules and regulations.
As such, the chances of spreading the virus between students is minimal. For example, upper-grade students can arrange their desks to be physically distanced at least 2 meters apart.
They can extend the physical distance to zigzag configurations of their desks.
The music room is a high-risk space in schools. Why you may ask. Students use wind, brass, and singing instruments. By doing so, they can spread airborne germs in the air. To reduce the spread of coronavirus and other germs, schools must reconsider holding music classes on re-opening.
Schools should limit class times if holding classes indoors. They should also allow a ventilation flush period before the next group enters the room. Teachers must also schedule 5 to 10-minute breaks to allow air purifiers and HVAC systems to clean the air.
During these breaks, all students and staff must wear masks.
Besides rehearsals indoors, schools can direct teachers to hold music classes outdoors. To increase flexibility, teachers can have classes in tents. These tents must be high pitched and open-sided.
Each student should have his or her own music stand and absorbent pads. No student must share their musical instruments. All flutists should stay behind a plexiglass barrier. They should also be physically separated by more than 6 feet from other students.
Computer labs are also high-risk areas as most PCs are close to each other. As such, students can share these devices, which increases the risk of coronavirus transmission. Most computer peripherals have plastic bodies.
They include keyboards, webcams, USB flash drives, external drives, and others. You need to know that the coronavirus and other germs can remain active on plastic peripherals for three days.
To reduce the risk of transmission, cleaning, and disinfection of these surfaces is crucial. This promotes good hygiene. It’s also essential for teachers to provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to promote good hand hygiene.
The school must position plexiglass barriers between workstations. This minimizes close contact between students.
Other rooms that need air purifiers include:
- Isolation rooms
If the weather permits, it’s recommended that the school set up an isolation area in a tent outdoors.
How to Ensure Healthy Classrooms?
The closing of schools in March was necessary amidst the outbreak of COVID-19. This strategy acted like a swift tool to combat coronavirus. According to the Risk Reduction Strategies for Reopening Schools Report, officials are being advised to take the following steps as schools are about to re-open:
- Ensure students and staff wash their hands frequently
- Require students and teachers to wear masks
- Employ space utilization to physically distance staff and students
- Perform daily symptom screening
- Disinfect surfaces and objects
Schools are also advised to ensure high levels of indoor air filtration and ventilation. The coronavirus is present in the sneezes, coughs, and exhaled breath of an infected person. These germs can move in the air and disperse in a room.
Also, they can remain suspended in the air for hours. This will lead to more infections.
One way schools can reduce the risk of infection is through ventilation. Ventilation via open windows brings in the fresh air. This dilutes indoor air, which is laden with the airborne coronavirus. Besides opening windows, the next best solution is the use of mechanical ventilation systems (HVAC).
These systems can bring in fresh, clean air and distribute in each classroom and office with appropriate filters combination. It’s important to minimize air recirculation by the ventilation system during the COVID-19 period. This reduces the potential spread of the virus to areas in the building.
Schools with no ventilation systems can increase natural ventilation by opening doors. They can open skylights, roof ventilators, and other inlets and outlets.
Natural ventilation is effective in reducing the level of airborne contaminants in the air. But it’s not a guarantee. To address this, schools can use box fans in open windows. Air purifiers with True HEPA or H13 HEPA filters are useful in reducing exposures to the virus-carrying aerosols and particles.
While they are effective in trapping airborne pollutants, not all purifiers are useful for large rooms. Some are effective for small and medium-sized rooms. To confirm the purifier’s room coverage, check the CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) ratings.
Lastly, every classroom needs an air purifier, and schools need to minimize crowding. In fact, they should enforce group and physical distancing.
List of The 7 Best Air Purifiers for Classroom
Poor indoor air quality impacts our children’s learning and wellness. Schools can use portable air purifiers to create a safe environment and reduce the spread of coronavirus infection.
Here are the 7 best air purifiers for classrooms:
1. Medify MA-112 V2.0 Air Purifier
If you are looking for the best air purifier for a classroom with high CADR ratings, then this is for you. The Medify Air MA-112 V2.0 Air Purifier comes with the most powerful fan of all purifiers made by Medify. Thanks to the powerful fan, the air purifier draws in more unfiltered air and distributes clean, fresh air in a classroom.
The purifier has four fan speeds. As such, you can select a speed based on indoor air quality. In a classroom, we recommend setting the air purifier’s fan at the highest speed. When you do so, the fan will rotate faster, drawing in more unfiltered air.
The unfiltered air will pass through the side intakes and into the advanced air chamber holding the filtration system. The three-stage filtration system includes a pre-filter, H13 HEPA filter, and an activated carbon filter.
The pre-filter traps large particles such as dust, lint, and hair. The next stage of the filtration system is the H13 HEPA filter. With a 99.9% efficiency rating, the H13 HEPA filter traps contaminants as small as 0.1 microns.
They include mold, pollen, airborne bacteria, lead dust, asbestos, carbon dust, tobacco smoke, and virus carriers. The last stage is the carbon filter, which absorbs and neutralizes odors, chemicals, VOCs, and smoke.
Due to the powerful fan and advanced filtration system, the air purifier has a CADR of 560 CFM. It can clean a 1,050 square feet room four times in an hour.
Recommended classroom size for Medify MA-112:
Pros & Cons:
In-depth review >>> Medify MA-112 V2.0 Review
2. Blueair Classic 605 Air Purifier
Although the Blueair Classic 605 Air Purifier is best suited for homes, it’s also the best HEPA air purifier for classrooms. This is because it has a CADR of 500 CFM. With five air changes in an hour, it can clean large rooms between 700 square feet and 800 square feet.
AHAM rates the purifier at 698 square feet, making it perfect for art rooms, music rooms, and other classes. You need to know that the purifier comes with a powerful filtration system that includes dual protection filters.
Besides the dual protection filters, it has HEPASilent technology, which leverages mechanical filtration to trap airborne particles.
This technology has an efficiency rating of 99.97%. As such, it can trap and remove dust, mold, hair, lint, pollen, and other airborne contaminants.
With three fan speeds, you can select a speed that will allow students to breathe easier. The purifier comes in an intuitive design that includes an easy to use control panel.
Teachers can control the purifier remotely via the BlueAir Friend app. They can adjust the fan speed, set auto mode, set a timer to fit the class schedule, or monitor air quality in real-time.
For lasting performance, BlueAir chose a durable steel body. As such, the purifier can stand the test of time.
Recommended classroom size for Blueair Classic 605:
Pros & Cons:
3. Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier
Available in silver and graphite, the Coway Airmega 400 Air Purifier comes with the Max2 filter. This is a combination of the True HEPA and an activated carbon filter. It has a 99.97% efficiency rating and can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns.
They include pollen, dust, and other allergens. Thanks to the carbon filter, the purifier can reduce VOCs and fumes. The purifier also has a washable pre-filter. As the first line of defense, it traps large dust particles, hair, and lint.
What we liked about this purifier is that it comes with a pollution sensor. It monitors air quality and communicates the results in real-time. The purifier displays brightly colored LED rings to let you know how clean or dirty your indoor air is.
If the LED ring turns red, the indoor air is very unhealthy; if it turns orange, it’s unhealthy, and if it turns green, the air quality is moderate. Lastly, we have aqua, which indicates the air quality is good.
If the air quality sensors detect high levels of pollutants in the air, the purifier automatically adjusts the fan speed. There are five fan modes, namely, smart, sleep, low, medium, and high.
The purifier’s fan will rotate faster and clean more dirty air. Basically, it will draw contaminated air from the two sides and push it through the filtration system. The unit has a CADR of 416 CFM and can clean up to 624 square feet five times in an hour.
While the air purifier is running at high speed and cleaning the air, the unit’s noise is below the normal conversation’s sound level. A normal conversation sound level is 60dB, while the purifier’s sound level is 52dB. This means, at the highest fan speed, students can still concentrate and focus in class.
Recommended classroom size for Coway Airmega 400:
Pros & Cons:
4. IQAir HealthPro Compact Air Purifier
IQAir is a trusted brand that makes genuine purifiers capable of removing ultrafine particles. Unlike other brands that use True HEPA filters only, IQAir exclusively uses the HyperHEPA filter. What’s unique about this filter?
A True HEPA filter can trap airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns, and an H13 HEPA filter traps pollutants as small as 0.1 microns. When it comes to the IQAir HyperHEPA filter, it can trap pollutants as small as 0.003 microns, which is suitable to prevent the spread of COVID in a classroom effectively.
Ultrafine particles are dangerous. They can penetrate the lung tissue and travel to other organs such as the liver and brain. As such, they can cause conditions such as strokes and heart attacks.
To prevent air leakage, the filter media is 100% sealed. The 3D UltraSeal is a patented technology that seals the filters to the housing. As such, no unfiltered air will escape. Besides the powerful filtration system and seal technology, the purifier comes with a new Edition fan.
This fan has a maintenance-free motor, which assures you of durability. Aside from durability, the fan consumes 27 watts at the lowest speed and 215 watts at the highest speed.
It has a maximum CADR of 330 CFM and can cover up to 500 square feet with five air changes in an hour.
Recommended classroom size for IQAir HealthPro Compact:
Pros & Cons:
IQAir HealthPro plus has 3-stage filter but has a lower cfm (maximum 300). Check out our in-depth review >>> IQAir HealthPro Plus Air Purifier
5. Whirlpool Whispure Pro 2000 Air Purifier (WP-PRO2000)
Looking for a cost-saving solution that will purify the air in your classroom and reduce allergens? The Whirlpool WPPRO2000 Air Purifier is what you need. This air purifier helps eliminate odors, allergens, and smoke faster with a high removal rate.
The purifier comes with a True HEPA filter and a composite carbon pre-filter. The True HEPA filter has an efficiency rating of 99.97%. It can trap allergens and dust as small as 0.3 microns.
The powerful filtration system has a CADR of 328 CFM. This means the unit can clean air in a 500 square feet room five times in an hour.
You can monitor the air quality in your classroom in real-time thanks to the built-in VOC sensor. It senses high levels of pollutants in the air and adjusts fan speed automatically to clean the air.
Besides the powerful filtration system, what we liked about this purifier is the touch control panel. It’s easy to use, and you don’t have to spend hours reading the owner’s manual to learn how to use the unit.
Recommended classroom size for Whirlpool Wp Pro 2000:
Pros & Cons:
In-depth review >>> Whirlpool WpPro 2000 Air Purifier
6. Levoit LV-H134 Air Purifier
Headquartered in Southern California, Levoit creates reliable products that clean indoor air. One of the best products to come from its production line is the Levoit LV-H134 Air Purifier.
Best air purifier for school, it has a CADR of 312 CFM. It can clean up to 1170 square feet in half an hour and 470 square feet in 12 minutes. It also comes with a laser dust sensor.
This sensor accurately detects and monitors dust particles in the air. In 30 seconds, the purifier can give you accurate and real-time air quality feedback. If the LED turns red, air quality is bad; if it turns yellow, air quality is moderate, and green is good.
If the LED ring turns blue, air quality is very good. The purifier has an easy to use smart mode. This feature adjusts the fan speed based on the surrounding air quality. If the air quality is terrible, the fan will run at the highest speed to clean the air.
Now, you and your students can relax and breathe clean, fresh air without worrying about allergens. The purifier comes with a 3 stage filtration system composed of an H13 HEPA filter, an activated carbon filter, and a fine pre-filter.
The first line of defense is the pre-filter that traps large particles such as dust and hair. Next is the H13 HEPA filter that traps small particles such as mold spores and allergens like pollen. Lastly, we have the carbon filter that absorbs unwanted fumes and odors.
Recommended classroom size for Levoit LV-H134:
Pros & Cons:
7. Honeywell HPA300 Air Purifier
Honeywell is an American multinational headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. Founded in 1885, Honeywell is a trusted brand that manufactures quality air purifiers. One of its best air purifiers is the HPA300 True HEPA Air Purifier.
Recommended for large rooms, the purifier comes with a 3 stage filtration system. This system includes a carbon pre-filter and a True HEPA filter.
The carbon pre-filter captures large particles such as dust, lint, and fibers. It also absorbs light odors. The True HEPA filter traps 99.97% of microscopic allergens as small as 0.3 microns.
They include airborne bacteria, mold spores, smoke, dust mite debris, and pollen. Besides the power filtration system, the purifier has three cleaning levels and a Turbo clean mode. This function allows effective air cleaning and circulation of fresh, clean air.
The purifier has a CADR of 300 CFM. It can clean a 450 square feet room five times in an hour. It comes with touch controls that are easy to use.
As the #1 brand recommended by an allergist, the purifier also comes with a five-year warranty.
Recommended classroom size for Honeywell HPA300:
Pros & Cons:
Buying Guide for Air Purifier for Classrooms:
Shopping for the best air purifier with a powerful filtration system capable of trapping viruses is challenging. The good news is, we researched, and here are the top 4 factors to consider before buying the best air purifier for the classroom.
True HEPA filter vs. H13 HEPA filter
Both True HEPA and H13 HEPA filters are excellent filtration systems, but they have a couple of differences. A True HEPA filter ranges from H10 to H12. It has an efficiency rating of 99.97% and can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns. Such particles include dust mite debris, pollen, smoke, and other allergens.
When it comes to the H13 HEPA filter, it can capture airborne particles as small as 0.1 microns.
Such particles include ultrafine dust, viruses, and fine combustion smoke particles. If planning to buy a purifier for your classrooms, we recommend a purifier with an H13 HEPA filter or True HEPA filter. Don’t select HEPA-type or HEPA-like air purifiers.
Higher Clean Air Delivery Rate
Clean air delivery rate or CADR is how effective an air purifier can clean a room. Most air purifiers have three CADR values, namely dust, pollen, and smoke. The higher the CADR value, the better the air filtration.
A typical American primary school classroom has an average of 23.1 students above the OECD average of 21.4 students. For lower secondary schools, the average class size is 24.3 students than 23.9 students in the OECD.
When it comes to size, an elementary school classroom in the US is 900 square feet. With social distancing, we expect 20 students per teacher and up to 1029 square feet of occupancy. If buying an air purifier for a 900 square feet room, we recommend buying two air purifiers with a total CADR of between 450 and 580.
If the classroom size is more than 1000 square feet, buy one, two, or three purifiers with a total CADR of 650 or higher.
Classroom Air Purifiers CFM Calculation:
Avoid Ionizers and UV-C Lights
Modern air purifiers come with ionizers and UVC lights. The purpose of an ionizer is to improve air quality. It does so by adding negative ions into the air.
These negative ions attach themselves to positively charged ions carrying bacteria and allergens. When this happens, the particles become heavy and fall to the ground where you can vacuum them.
UV-C lights also help in disinfecting the air, water, and non-porous surfaces. For decades, this technology has helped in reducing the spread of bacteria. That is why UV-C lights are also called germicidal lamps.
While these add-ons boost the filtration rate, they also emit ozone and other byproducts. We recommend avoiding air purifiers with add-ons such as ionizers, plasma, PCO, and UV-C lights.
Consider the Placement of the Purifier
You can place an air purifier on your table, desk, nightstand, or floor at home or office. As long as no object blocks the air intake and outlet, the air purifier will effectively clean the air in your room.
In a classroom, placement matters a lot. Why you may ask. A class has more than 20 occupants at a given time. A healthy person’s typical respiratory rate is 12 to 18 breaths per minute.
If buying a powerful purifier, you can place it on a table at the center of the room. If buying two air purifiers with a total CADR of 450 and above, we recommend placing one at the front of the class and the other at the center of the room.
Poor air quality can lead to absenteeism in school due to asthma and other respiratory infections. It can also increase the transmission of coronavirus between students and staff.
With a powerful air purifier, it can filter out airborne bacteria and viruses. It can also remove asthma and asthma triggers.
If you are looking for the best air purifier for classrooms to improve air quality and reduce the spread of coronavirus, we recommend the units reviewed above.