Locally produced units from Austin Air Systems will improve air quality, reduce disease transmission risk for students and school staff

ERIE COUNTY, NY—The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) has announced that about 10,600 air filtration units have been ordered for every k-12 public and charter classroom in Erie County. Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz and Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein joined Buffalo City School District General Counsel Nathaniel J. Kuzma and Austin Air Systems President Lauren McMillan as Buffalo Public Schools received its shipment of air filter units on Wednesday, June 1.

The Office of the County Executive and ECDOH worked closely with school leaders in public and non-public schools throughout Erie County to plan and implement this project. With assistance from the Erie County Department of Public Works, ECDOH collaborated with Austin Air Systems of Buffalo to coordinate the production and delivery of air filtration units for every k-12 classroom in Erie County.

“The COVID-19 pandemic burdened schools and families with incredible challenges and concerns over health and safety,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “The path of this pandemic and our response to it have shifted. Equipping our schools with Austin Air Healthmate Air Purifiers will help create a healthier school environment for k-12 students. This investment is a critical component of my back-on-track agenda to help our children recover from the damage caused by the pandemic.”

“Maintaining improved ventilation in public indoor spaces is a core recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no matter what level of COVID-19 transmission a community is experiencing,”said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “Staying home when ill, seeking testing as appropriate, wearing a mask as recommended, and getting vaccinated and boosted are other key parts of a comprehensive strategy to keep children and school staff healthy, and learning at school. This initiative will help keep the approximate 130,000 k-12 students and school staff in Erie County healthy by reducing the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne contagions.”

“The Buffalo Public Schools are elated to be included in Erie County Executive Poloncarz’s initiative to place an air purifier machine in every classroom within Erie County,” said Buffalo City School District Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams. “Air purifier machines increase ventilation and add better filtration. These particular air purifiers are high quality and have a charcoal filter that will remove toxic gases like a car exhaust or bus fumes that may enter a building during arrival and dismissal.” She continued, “The second stage of the filter unit contains a HEPA filter, which removes up to 99% of all pollen, bacteria, and viruses in the air. Ultimately, these air purifier machines will have a positive effect in ensuring proper air treatment of all occupied classrooms and will help our children breath in clean air. The safety of our entire school community is our top priority!”

To date, Erie County has invested just under $5.3 million in federal funding for this project, from a grant directed towards COVID-19 mitigation measures within k-12 schools. Each unit cost $500. In addition to BPS, all other school districts and charter schools received their units in May. ECDOH expects air filtration systems to be delivered to private schools during the summer.