COVID-19 Transmission in Student Housing

From Dorm Rooms to Fraternity Houses, Air Purifiers Can Help

Air Cleaning Helps Reduce Virus Spread in Student Housing

COVID-19. The statistics at the time of this writing are grim:

Global confirmed cases: 31,389,682
U.S. confirmed cases: 6,867,960
U.S. death toll: 200,182 (as of 9/22/20, footnote 1)

As a result, this August looked different than any other in the history of American higher education, with mandatory facemask wearing, temperature checks or similar protocols in place at schools across the nation. Though many are being taught virtually during this global health crisis, US colleges and universities are open for business.

These are precarious times and many students and their parents – not to mention college administrators and faculty – are worried amid concerns surrounding COVID-19 and its transmission. Their worries are not unfounded. After months of preparedness on the part of colleges and universities to ensure those in attendance avoid illness, the virus is already spreading with a vengeance.

The U.S. Department of Education lists more than 4,000 academic institutions of higher learning (2) at which nearly 20 million students attend (3). At every one of these schools there are hundreds – in some cases thousands – of workers, many of whom commute from other areas, widening the scope of transmissibility. Even taking into account on-line learners, there are still millions of people that study and work in higher education who are at risk. And an alarming number of them are getting sick. With barely two months back at school, there have already been more than 40,000 cases of Covid-19 reported from campuses across all 50 states. (4)

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), defined Covid-19 as: (5)

• An illness caused by a coronavirus that primarily spreads from person to person.
• A new coronavirus, one deemed a contagion, which has spread globally.
• An illness with symptoms that range from mild to severe. Many infected people are asymptomatic.
• An infection that is transmissible by close contact (about 6 feet or two arm lengths) with a person who has COVID-19.
• An infection that is transmissible by contact with respiratory droplets from a cough, sneeze, or spittle from a person who has the virus.
• An illness that may also be transmissible if someone touches his or her face after contracting viral germs from a microbe-covered object or surface.

Containing the spread of viruses and other illnesses has always been a challenge on college campuses. Think how colds and flu thrive there – classrooms, residential housing, cafeterias – all of these locations are enclosed spaces that tend to be crowded, often with poor ventilation. Add to that the very nature of college social life – dorm and fraternity parties, clubs and team sporting events, college bars – plus the diminished judgment of many younger people, and germ-sharing becomes communal.

But college is home to millions. How can one be sure that students are positioned for wellness rather than illness? The answer is clean air.

Whether your school has over 25,000 students are fewer than 2,500, it takes only one infected person to begin a potentially far-reaching spread of viral germs. Students living in residential housing are particularly vulnerable. The CDC prioritizes risk in residential housing (this includes all types of student housing – student apartments, dormitories, and sorority and fraternity houses) from lowest to highest: (6)

Lowest Risk: Closed residences

Increased Risk: Open housing at lower capacity with closed common areas

Highest Risk: Fully open residential housing including shared spaces/common areas

Whether your residential housing situation is considered increased or high risk, CDC recommended control measures for improving indoor air quality indicate that “elimination” is the most effective means of reducing transmission of Covid-19 and advocates the use of portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaners as an additional means of reducing viral spread. (7)

Air purifiers and HEPA filters are designed to draw in polluted air and filter out impurities. Ideal for use in dorm rooms, fraternity houses, and any common areas where students gather, our portable HEPA filter air cleaning system filters and recirculates clean air, further reducing harmful contaminants.

To find out more about our college and university air purifying systems – such as our 987 AMB HEPA Room Air Scrubber model – Contact Air Systems, Inc. to speak to one of our clean air specialists.