Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday he is ordering officials to conduct a statewide assessment of ventilation and air filtration in public schools.
The announcement follows the early dismissal of students at 31 schools throughout Baltimore on Tuesday due to lack of proper air conditioning.
“It’s unbelievable to me that this is still happening after the comptroller and I have worked together for the last six years to push to get every school air-conditioned and to provide record funding for every school to be air-conditioned, and our nonstop efforts to hold schools accountable,” Mr. Hogan said at Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting.
The Republican governor said Baltimore was required to establish a plan to provide air conditioning for all of its schools, but noted that the work was “not actually completed.”
Public health experts have stressed the importance of proper ventilation as a safety measure against COVID-19, he added.
“The CDC specifically recommended maximizing building ventilation and improving the level of air filtration as much as possible through the use of high-efficiency HEPA filtration units,” Mr. Hogan said.
Students across the region have returned to their classrooms for in-person learning this week as the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly throughout communities.
Maryland has provided more than $3 billion in additional federal funding to school systems for pandemic-related costs such as improvements to HVAC, ventilation and filtration systems, according to Mr. Hogan, but it’s unclear which schools have properly used those funds.