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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Clearing the Air with Concordia
By Teresa Guitterez 26-Nov-14
This past winter saw higher-than-normal Air Quality Index (AQI) values in Shanghai, which had international schools in the city urgently looking to maintain safe and healthy air quality levels on their campuses. School leaders conferenced with one another and discussed the most effective ways to combat the looming situation. Before the smog had settled, they were offering up solutions. Some schools opted to equip their classrooms with portable clean air systems, while others decided to enact permanent structural changes to their facilities. Administrators at Concordia International School sought a long-term solution, investing over 3 million RMB to ensure levels within their facilities were safe. Head of School Gregg Pinick outlined for the community some of the improvements Concordia has undertaken in light of December’s bad air scare. In addition to adding hermetic seals to the doors, and changing and upgrading air filters, the school installed a fixed-air filtration system that reduces the fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) to a very safe level in all classrooms and large gathering areas. “We will continue to do what is necessary to make sure we have a safe, high-quality learning environment going forward,” Pinick added. The school has been vigilant about monitoring its indoor air quality, using professional-grade digital monitors to take multiple readings per day in every building on campus. The data gathered has helped administrators make informed decisions about air quality safety at the school. It has also provided students in the AP Environmental Science class the opportunity for an authentic scientific experiment. Led by teacher Anne Love, these high school students turned Shanghai’s high AQI into a real-life learning experience. They analyzed the data and presented their findings to a group of impressed parents. Their research concluded that the school’s indoor PM 2.5 readings were well within the recommended ranges suggested by the U.S. Embassy in China before the new filtration system was installed, and were markedly lower afterward. Love later commented, “Seeing my students engaged in the important work of analyzing air quality data and excited to communicate their knowledge to the community—that’s what teaching is all about.” Concordia understands that a safe and healthy environment is conducive to a high-quality education, and the school applies the same holistic approach to safety that it does to its instruction.
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