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Some parents pitching in for air purifiers in schools

Fort Mill spent about $3 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds this summer to purchase Air Guardian air purification systems for elementary and middle schools.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When it comes to COVID-19 mitigation strategies, good airflow frequently comes up. Now, it's prompting some parents in the Carolinas to put matters into their own pockets, shelling out money to pay for air purifiers in their kids' classrooms.

So, could we see that in Charlotte schools too? As WCNC Charlotte learned, not anytime soon.                   

Doctors will tell you keeping the air flowing is an important part of stopping the spread of COVID-19. From Raleigh to Fort Mill, air purifiers are popping up in school buildings. 

Fort Mill spent about $3 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds this summer to purchase Air Guardian air purification systems for elementary and middle schools.

"That will help us not only fight against COVID but also all of the other bacteria and mold that could be in the buildings," Joe Burke, Chief Communication Officer with Fort Mill Schools District, said.

Installation just began last week — nearly a month into the start of the school year.

Meanwhile, schools in Wake County are putting purifiers on their wish lists, prompting parents to pool their money to purchase personal air purifiers for their kids' classrooms.

But don't expect to see parents making those purchases for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. 

A district spokesperson told WCNC Charlotte that CMS does not allow donations, from parents or otherwise, of air purification equipment.

The district said there are no standards for the effectiveness of air purifiers, and they question the legitimacy of some of the makers. It's something Novant Health infectious disease specialists are cautioning about as well.

"I'd be a little careful about buying into claims from air purifiers that haven't been vigorously tested because we know when these things happen, companies will come out and make claims about products that we don't know to be true," Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease specialist with Novant Health, said.

There's also the matter of equity. CMS has pointed out that private purchases of purifiers are just another way to separate the have and have not. Even parents who've bought in acknowledge every kid should have a right to the same quality of air.

"Ultimately, we want to make sure that all of the children are protected adequately, not just the select few because the parents can afford," parent Justin Parisi said.