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IDPH Launches $30 Million Program to Distribute Air Purifiers to Illinois Schools | Main stories


(WAND) – Governor J. B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Thursday that the state is launching a $29.6 million program to distribute more than 60,000 HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) air purifiers to Illinois schools to reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses such as COVID -19.

IDPH coordinates the program with the Illinois State Board of Education.

The program is funded by the CDC through the Save America 2021 Plan and is designed for school districts serving low-income communities and districts with high levels of air pollution.

IDPH estimates that nearly 3,000 schools will be eligible for the program. That covers 68 percent of the state’s school districts.

It will cover schools across the state, including Cook County, with the exception of Chicago. Chicago received a separate federal grant.

“Nothing is more important to me than keeping the people of Illinois safe and healthy, especially when it comes to our young people,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker. “We know that our children need to stay healthy and learn in well-ventilated classrooms in order to thrive and succeed. With this $30 million investment, school children will have cleaner air, preventing illness and absenteeism while improving our children’s ability to think and learn.”

“I have dedicated much of my career to protecting and promoting the health of children,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra, who is a pediatrician. “Data over the past three years has shown us the extreme importance of good ventilation to protect children and adults from respiratory diseases. These HEPA air purifiers are a significant investment in our children, and I am thrilled that the state of Illinois can make such an impact. They will keep children healthy and in school, providing more opportunities to learn and succeed for years to come.”

“Every Illinois student deserves a safe and healthy learning environment, regardless of zip code or income level,” said Superintendent of Education Tony Sanders. “Improving classroom ventilation with air purifiers is a proven method that we can use to reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, influenza and RSV, while at the same time reducing illness-related absences. A child’s health and attendance are inextricably linked to their ability to learn, and I am pleased that the state is making this vital investment.”

IDPH is launching a registration process in coordination with ISBE through which schools can place orders for portable HEPA air purifiers.

Administrators of the respective school districts will be contacted directly with information on the number of cleaners their districts are eligible to receive. The portable air purifiers will be delivered to school districts in the coming months.

Schools are generally eligible for one small air filter unit for every 20 students in the school, with a limited number of larger units for districts with more than 1,000 students.

Questions from school administrators should be directed to the IDPH Air Purifier Project mailbox at DPH.AirPurify@illinois.gov.

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