Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced that the state will be providing more than 1,000 HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) purifiers to Illinois Head Start and Early Head Start programs around the state to help reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.
IDPH will begin delivery of around 1,090 air purifiers to 45 different Head Start programs around the state.
The state is also delivering a three-year supply of replacement filters for the purifiers and 225,000 COVID-19 rapid antigen tests to the Head Start and Early Head Start programs for distribution to their staff and families served.
Last month, the CDC released new guidelines for indoor ventilation that set a specific target for the first time. The new guidelines call for at least five air changes per hour, meaning the equivalent of all the air in a room is replaced five or more times within an hour.
“The health and well-being of our youngest children is a top priority for my administration,” Governor Pritzker said. “By providing the means to maintain good air quality in Head Start classrooms we can prevent illnesses and absences for both children and teachers and also improve children’s ability to learn and develop critical skills.”
“Illinois’ Head Start program is dedicated to providing a healthy and safe classroom environment for the children we serve,” said Head Start Association Executive Director Lauri Morrison-Frichtl. “By improving ventilation with air purifiers, we can keep kids in the classroom and accomplish our mission of preparing these very young children to learn and succeed in the years to come.”
Studies show that cleaner air can reduce absentee rates, and improve students’ abilities to think, learn, read and solve math problems.