It started out with a group of San Francisco parents pitching in their own money to buy air purifiers for their children’s classrooms. Now, the school district wants to spend nearly $3 million to put one air purifier in every classroom.
When the brutal wave of delta variant cases swept through India earlier this year, Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, who goes by Sri, knew his kids’ classrooms would need one crucial thing in the fall – an air purifier.
His twins are third-graders at Commodore Sloat Elementary.
“I asked them ‘what’s the plan?’ and they told us the plan of record was to open the windows,” he said, thinking it would be a bad plan when wildfire season is at its worst.
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“They’re going to use outdoor air to ventilate the classrooms but when the outdoor air itself is a toxin, there was no plan to purify the air inside, that’s where we said we have to do something ourselves,” said the father of two.
A total of 26 families and one corporate donor banded together to raise $5,000 to buy hepa air purifiers for 16 classrooms.
Now, the district is taking inspiration from those parents and is asking the school board for the green-light to buy one air purifier for every classroom. Price tag – nearly $3 million.
“We know that air quality can also be a challenge in the Bay Area and it’s possible that it will continue to get worse,” said Laura Dudnick of the San Francisco Unified School District.
Across the Bay, the Oakland Unified School District already installed air purifiers in classrooms, before the first day of school.
“We will start purchasing the portable air cleaners on a rolling basis we could put in our first order next week and classrooms might start to see them in a few weeks,” said Dudnick.
Sri hopes the district purchases the right air purifiers – those that can cycle all of the air in the room, multiple times per hour.
“If the air purifiers are too small, they are not gonna have the intended effect,” he said.