IAQ Actions for School Administrators and School Board Members
Every member of the school community plays a role in monitoring and improving indoor air quality (IAQ) in your school. By becoming IAQ-conscious and taking some simple actions, you can make a real impact on the health and productivity of all members of the school. Listed below are some simple actions that can make an immediate difference.
*Adapted from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Actions to Improve Indoor Air Quality" EPA 402-F-99-008.
The school administration and school board play a key role in maintaining IAQ by creating and approving IAQ-related policies and operations and maintenance budgets. By understanding IAQ in their school buildings, school administrators should be able to prioritize IAQ-related policy decisions and expenditures. The following is a list of things school board members and school administrators can do to support the efforts of facility operators to maintain and improve IAQ.
IAQ Management Plan
- If you’re a public school district, make sure you have written an IAQ Management Plan that meets the state’s requirements. See: Minnesota Department of Education: Health and Safety Letter
- If you have no IAQ Management Plan, create one. You can use MDH’s Model IAQ Plan in Schools
- Review your existing written Plan and be sure it complements related policies and that the practices and procedures described are followed. Remove or change out-date or irrelevant polices and procedures. See: Minnesota Department of Education: Health and Safety Letter
- Know where your IAQ Management Plan and supporting documents are located so that you can show it to parents and staff when they request to see it.
- Make sure you and other key staff (such as the IAQ Coordinator and custodians) understand the Plan, and that the IAQ Coordinator is available and prepared to answer basic questions from staff and parents.
- Review your IAQ Management Plan annually and have the school board approve the revisions. Include the approval documentation in your Plan.
- Talk to the school nurse about asthma, and weather any school building issues may be contributing to students' symptoms.
- If you are a public school district, understand the MDE’s health and safety program guidelines for funding projects and creatively use this program to pay for your expenses. See: Minnesota Department of Education: Health and Safety Letter
Contracts with Service Providers
- Be sure to include IAQ related provisions in your contracts with ventilation engineers, architects, pest eradicators, flooring vendors, and other building contractors.
- Show them your IAQ Management Plan, which should outline general expectations. For example, in renovation projects there should be a written agreement regarding who is responsible for controlling pollutant emissions during renovation and cleaning after the project is completed.
- If you have an IAQ Consultant, make sure they are very familiar with MDE’s health and safety policy letter. See: Minnesota Department of Education: Health and Safety Letter
- Make sure that pest management professionals have the proper applicator license(s), and that all pesticide label instructions are strictly followed, and parents are notified about the pesticide use. See: Minnesota Department of Agriculture: Online Licensing & Payment Options
- Test all classrooms and frequently occupied areas that are at or below ground level to determine excessive radon levels.
- Contact the Minnesota Department of Health to obtain technical assistance about radon testing.
- Be sure to share information about IAQ issues and investigations with parents and staff. Sometimes rumors cause more problems than the situation itself!
- Contact the Minnesota Department of Health for one-on-one consultation regarding your IAQ concerns, possibly including on-site consultations