School desk

During the Covid -19 Pandemic, all school districts sought out strategies to help mitigate the risk of infection for students and staff. This resulted in Royal Oak Schools immediately implementing two of the three major changes, recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). These changes increased air filtration and increased outside air.

Royal Oak Schools continued to explore a third mitigation strategy to clean and purify the air supplied to our buildings. During this process, Royal Oak Schools sought guidance and advice from Michigan’s COVID-19 task force and our local ASHRAE Chapter to help vet the many different types of systems offered to improve indoor air quality.

UVC technology

After a great deal of reviews and study, Royal Oak Schools has chosen UVC technology, the same technology used by many local health agencies and hospitals. UVC technology is the only air cleaning system currently endorsed by ASHRAE because of the extensive third-party testing verifying the efficacy of UVC systems ability to kill the COVID-19 virus as well as many other pathogens and irritants that will benefit our building occupants beyond the recent pandemic by providing greatly improved indoor air quality.

The UVC equipment will draw in room air and treat it with concentrated UV light and then disperse sterile room air into that space. The UVC addition to the buildings of the district will take place in two phases. The first phase will address all large air handling equipment and individual units for classrooms and office spaces. The second phase will address hallways and larger restrooms. The bid award for the first phase was awarded on June 24, 2021, and work began at Royal Oak High School in the summer.

 UVC tech light


 Click here for a feature on this story that aired on Fox 2 News on August 31, 2021.




Royal Oak Schools Response to Cleaning

To better protect students and teachers in our community and their families at home, our schools have upgraded cleaning and disinfection with an Enhanced Clean program through our custodial partner, ABM. The following measures are being taken to disinfect spaces in your schools on a frequent and ongoing basis.  The enhanced cleaning measures meet or exceed the Michigan Return to School Roadmap.  

How Are We Doing Disinfection Differently

Trained + Certified Enhanced Clean team members working in our schools are Certified Disinfection Specialists. Our certification process requires testing, observation, and verification of operational knowledge. Experts visually confirm our disinfection specialists can demonstrate proper use of tools, techniques, and protective equipment.  

Our Custodial service company’s Advisory Council includes infection prevention and industrial hygiene experts.

Our Certified Enhanced Clean Facilitators keep training in step with official guidance and best practices. Standard Operating Procedures + Upgraded Disinfection Protocols identify high-touch surfaces and increase cleaning and disinfection frequency for those high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, faucets, bottle filling stations, etc.

Enhanced Clean disinfectants are rated for emerging pathogens and EPA-approved.  We have implemented broader disinfection protocols beyond high-touch points periodically. Our staff are trained in social distancing and always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure their actions and interactions within shared spaces protect everyone’s health.

We have a new health screening protocol to help prevent people from coming to work when they are ill.

Our disinfection team members always wear the appropriate masks, gloves, and other protective equipment in accordance with CDC guidance. Our custodial service provider, ABM, is well-positioned to be first in line for products from our supply chain network. They partnered with your school leadership to bring students and teachers together in a safer, healthier learning environment. Our team members have committed to clear health and safety practices as part of their certification. Our Enhanced Clean program will also provide signage to help staff, teachers, and students remain aware of how we can all follow to stay healthy.  

Our building teams will follow the required protocols as outlined by the State of Michigan in the back to school plan:

  • All touch points and bathrooms will be cleaned a minimum of every 4 hours
  • All desktops will be cleaned between class changes or rotations
  • Each building will be thoroughly cleaned every evening
  • Each building will receive Electrostatic spraying a minimum of once weekly

Other precautions that have been put in place:

  • Plexiglass has been installed in the cafeterias between the food stations and all cashier positions.
  • All technology and keyboards will be wiped down between each student with approved wipes.
  • Buses are cleaned between each run. 

In the event of confirmed exposure, all affected spaces will be cleaned and Electrostatically treated before staff or students reoccupy the space, including designated sickrooms. 

Electrostatic spraying uses charged particles to coat surfaces and provide for easy large-scale dispersal of EPA-registered disinfectants. Manual cleaning is a necessary first step of any disinfection process.

This disinfectant dispersal method increases pathogen droplet attraction, which may help slow the spread of COVID-19.  Our custodial service company has selected disinfectants from EPA’s List N to be used with electrostatic and other sprayers. List N disinfectants are deemed effective against SARS-CoV-2.  Although the EPA continues to study electrostatic spraying of disinfectants, there is evidence that electrostatic spraying is an effective method of disinfection, especially for hard to reach areas or remote surfaces that may not have been disinfected through manual processes.

As part of an overall cleaning and disinfection program, this technology can help create a safe and healthy environment while decreasing cross-contamination risk.

Classrooms have or have been equipped with:

  • Classrooms with sinks have soap for access to hand washing.
  • Regularly scheduled visits to group bathrooms for classes without sinks.
  • Hand sanitizer has been installed in every classroom and space. 

Signage has been installed to remind students and staff to remain socially distant.  In restrooms, signs have been added for maximum occupancy and a reminder to wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. Every other sink in restrooms has been disabled to keep students and staff socially distant.

Plexiglass and some protective barriers for individual teacher/student meetings have been ordered for each classroom.  At every main office, a plexiglass shield has been installed.

Furniture has been arranged to be socially distanced.  

Additional information:

Upgrades to the HVAC systems can be found here:

The Royal Oak Schools Return to School Roadmap and Updates

Royal Oak Schools response to COVID 19 for HVAC Systems

We have taken the following steps to mitigate the negative effects of the COVID-19 virus and provide the safest environment for our students and staff.

  1. Air filters use a universal rating called a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating.  Recommendations are to outfit equipment with the highest rating possible to filter the air and still not potentially damage equipment or reduce airflow to the point of diminishing returns.  Recommendations are to get all equipment as close to a MERV 13 rating as possible. Our intent was to follow that strategy as closely as possible. This was accomplished by installing filters of various ratings and testing the airflow differential over the course of several days. Where MERV 13 filters were viable they have been ordered and are being installed as they come in from our supplier. Our supplier provided an expert opinion during this process. We examined many possibilities for air purification including what were judged to be both viable and non-viable solutions. We found our resulting process to be typical of most other Michigan school districts. With the denser filter material we will have to implement at least one more filter change into our filter change schedule. This will be determined by air flow measurements as the school year progresses.
  2. As to whether windows should be open during occupied hours, it is universally accepted that this recommendation was made to account for school districts that do not have the equipment to properly control temperature in instructional areas year round. There is science to suggest that open windows can cause problems with blowing across occupants and spreading contagions as a result. We made the determination that with our installed systems, being of very recent technology, have the ability to provide the safest environment possible without the potential problems of all windows being open. It would not be possible to control temperature in high heat or deep cold outdoor situations with window openings adding to the classroom climate.
  3. All HVAC units that are designed to specifically bring in fresh air already operate on 100 percent outside air. Those units are Heat Recovery Units (HRU), Energy Recovery Units (ERU) and Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV).  These units, which are the most responsible for outside air intake use exhausted air to temper the incoming air either using it to heat it in the winter or cool it in the summer.  Once this temperature exchange takes place through heat exchangers or energy wheels the indoor air is exhausted. These units don't recirculate air, but still filter the outside air that is brought in. These units will be outfitted with MERV 13 filters and those that utilize a secondary bag filter already have MERV 13 filters installed.
  4. Air Handling Units (AHU) and Roof Top Units (RTU) Heat Ventilators (HV) that condition air for specific areas, say an office area or a cafeteria for example, are currently running with the outdoor air dampers 100 percent open. For this condition, we are accepting a loss of efficiency for the reward of not recirculating air in occupied areas. These units will all be outfitted with MERV 13 filters as we have determined that to be viable as long as we check airflow on a regular basis to make sure to not put extra strain on electric components. 
  5. For most classroom areas that have Fan Coil Units (FCU) or Unit Ventilators (UV) we have installed the highest rated filters we can without affecting unit operation. FCU's which are in most classrooms are not the primary source of fresh air and thus don't act as the primary filtration. Again in this instance we made airflow readings and temperature scales over the course of days to determine the best environment and also the best opportunity to maintain temperature and not cause equipment failure over time. Filters for these units (FCU) are at a MERV 9 which is still within the >90 to >95 % average arrestance and 1.0-3.0 micron size particle filtration according to ASHRAE standards.
  6. All chilled water and Direct Expansion (DX) cooling systems are running prior to building occupancy and no areas of our systems have had standing water such as our cooling towers, which run 24/7 and utilized year round to aid in cooling application throughout their respective buildings. They are constantly chemically treated as are all of our mechanical water systems to insure they are free of organic material and material corrosive to the system itself.
  7. All equipment, be it inside, in a fan, equipment room, outside on pads, or on rooftops has been evaluated for operation and filtration to provide the optimum safe environment in this new time of caution and safety. We continue to monitor operations via our Building Management System (BMS) both onsite and remotely to give the best chance to spot problem areas before they become a problem to health or to instruction.


 If you have any questions please contact Pat Murphy at or by calling (248) 545-0064.