Roadmap for Reopening: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on Ventilation

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Facility safety is paramount to our learning environment. Last summer, as we prepared for Phase 2 operations for the Fall 2020 term, we shared how we were preparing our facilities to welcome back a small number of faculty, staff and students to our campuses. As we prepare to move to Phase 3 operations for the Summer 2021 term, it seemed like the perfect time to talk with Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Maintenance Shaun Andrews — who leads our Custodial, Grounds, Maintenance and Construction teams — to discuss the frequently asked questions he receives about air quality on campus.

Shaun — a Certified Hospital Facilities Manager who previously worked within hospital and medical facilities management and construction, designing constructing and operating hospitals, surgery centers and medical office facilities — is no stranger to providing the safest indoor environment possible. In fact, he was attracted to Valencia College because of the investments the College had already made in computerized controls to efficiently control and monitor the indoor environment, as well as the excellent facilities professionals who were on our team to monitor and repair our complex mechanical systems.

Here are questions he receives most often about campus safety and air quality.

Can you explain the air filtration that is used at the College and any changes in air filtration that may have developed in response to the pandemic?
I get asked about building sanitation and air quality daily since COVID-19 altered our learning environment last March. We are fortunate here at Valencia, since our buildings are engineered and designed to provide exchanges of outside air, and some of our newer buildings also utilize bi-polar ionization and ultraviolet technology to further eliminate contaminates in the indoor air. We also monitor CO2 levels in areas to be sure that the systems are maintaining proper fresh air levels.

Prior to COVID-19, Valencia College utilized different Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) filters to clean the indoor air as recommended by the space usage, so a lab space that may have certain contaminates would have a different MERV filter than say an atrium or a lecture space. We are currently moving to a MERV-13 filter in all of our systems to provide hospital-grade air filtration. Our goal is to not only address the immediate need to combat COVID-19 but also help in the fight against other infectious viruses and bacterial contaminates.

How often are the filters changed?
We have air conditioning technicians and maintenance technicians checking or changing filters at least every three months. We monitor filter appearance and proper fit to be sure that all air is passing through the filter and that there is no abundance of airborne materials that are potentially clogging the filter. We also base our filter change frequency on airflow data collected to ensure that filters are changed when they are no longer providing designed airflow to meet design parameters. Different types of systems require filter changes at a different frequency, and with the move to MERV-13 filters in all of our systems, we will most likely see a required frequency of filter change for some areas.

Do you feel that our facilities are safe?
In general, the larger the building, the more likely it is engineered and designed for outdoor air exchange, so that is one reason that I feel much safer here in my office at West Campus than I do at home, where there is no designed outdoor air exchange, or in a small establishment that also most likely does not have a system designed to utilize outdoor air exchange. Combine our building engineering and design with our preventive maintenance, filtration and systems monitoring, and I believe that we provide a really safe indoor environment.

Looking back over the past year, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I am very impressed with Valencia’s leadership over the past year. I felt that every decision mirrored what I believed to be the safest response and set up the facilities team to succeed in providing the safest environment given the circumstances. Leadership also included Facilities in discussions and planning throughout the pandemic and vetted all plans through Orlando Health, so from my perspective there is very little that I would go back and change. I think that our success is evident in that we made decisions with health and safety being paramount.

Do you feel that Valencia will continue to be a safe place?
I never fathomed that my past experiences as a Certified Hospital Facilities Manager would be needed to help the College safely maneuver through the current pandemic, but that experience allows me to feel confident that Valencia will continue to be a safe place for everyone.

I was responsible for creating emergency management plans and performing drills in the hospital on how the Facilities team would prepare and respond to outbreaks such as Ebola and other airborne contaminates, and I am now using those experiences to safely address our current battle with COVID-19. As we progressed through the scientific findings of how COVID-19 spread, we were able to adjust the facility response and prepare the team to be successful.

As we all adjust toward eventual Phase 4 operations, what will be needed?
Patience, communication and trust will be important for all of us moving forward. You are all our customers, and we will continue to support everyone in the best fashion possible to ensure that our facilities are safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing. The team is always available, and we appreciate the opportunity to serve Valencia College.

Do you have other questions about campus safety and air quality? Ask them in the comment section below or send them to Shaun directly at sandrews28@valenciacollege.edu or call him at 407-299-5000, extension 1179.

4 Comments

  • April Montallana said:

    Thank you for the excellent job you are doing in helping to keep us healthy and safe! Operations, Facilities, and Maintenance have been wonderful in assisting us on campus since August. – Your friends in Valencia Dental Hygiene 🙂

    PMThu, 25 Mar 2021 15:11:14 +0000Thu, 25 Mar 2021 15:11:14 +0000pm21,3:11 pm

    • Shaun Andrews said:

      Thanks April! I will pass on the feedback to the team.

      AMFri, 26 Mar 2021 10:01:36 +0000Fri, 26 Mar 2021 10:01:36 +0000am21,10:01 am

  • Kim said:

    Valencia hired the right person for this job! Fantastic work!

    AMFri, 26 Mar 2021 09:52:02 +0000Fri, 26 Mar 2021 09:52:02 +0000am21,9:52 am

  • Shaun Andrews said:

    I appreciate the support Kim. Thank you.

    AMFri, 26 Mar 2021 10:02:06 +0000Fri, 26 Mar 2021 10:02:06 +0000am21,10:02 am

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