$29.6M program will give Illinois students access to cleaner air at school

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:55 PM CDT
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ILLINOIS (WIFR) - State leaders announced Thursday an initiative to help Illinois kids stay healthier while in school.

The state of Illinois is launching a nearly $30 million program to bring more than 60,000 High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) purifiers to nearly 3,000 schools statewide. Leaders say bringing the purifiers in will help reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

“We know that our children need to stay healthy and study in classrooms that are well-ventilated in order to thrive and succeed,” Governor JB Pritzker said.

Funded by the CDC through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the program targets school districts that serve lower-income communities and counties that have elevated air pollution counts.

Eligible schools could see one small air filter unit for every 20 students in a school, with a limited number of larger units for districts with more than 1,000 students.

“Data over these last three years have shown us the critical importance of good ventilation to keep children and adults safe from respiratory illnesses,” IDPH director and pediatrician Dr. Sameer Vohra said. These HEPA air purifiers are a significant investment in our children, and I am very excited that the State of Illinois can make this impact.

Schools will be able to submit orders for portable HEPA air purifiers through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Eligibility is open to schools throughout the state, including Cook County, with the exception of Chicago, which has received a separate federal grant.