It’s clear that air pollution is a serious issue in Delhi, and in all of India. While efforts to address the problem continue in political, corporate, and diplomatic channels, AES is leading the way in indoor air quality improvement for students, faculty and the community.
- Beginning in October 2014, AES began testing indoor air quality improvement solutions. As of August 2015, forced air ventilation and fan systems to improve indoor air quality by 70-90% have been installed in all learning and working spaces.
- Regular monitoring of air quality allows for AES’ administration to modify plans for outdoor aerobic activity as necessary. Looking ahead, AES is currently evaluating proposals for covered play spaces that provide improved air quality for outdoor activity, and has earmarked budget to implement.
- Information for families on air quality is easy to access, and AES encourages families to find solutions and make choices that are best based on individual circumstances. For example, high-quality HEPA filters are available for purchase in India for home use, and there is a culture of acceptance at AES regarding pollution masks. Masks are available for purchase in the school store and anyone who wants to wear one is encouraged to do so.
AES Air Quality Guidelines
Given all this, from an institutional how-do-we-operate-on-a-daily-basis perspective, what should we do? Do we in effect close down our outside physical education and athletics programs for two to three months and bring our children and young adults inside for active, aerobic endeavors? If so, where is this inside space, and what level of activity is acceptable? If we allow our students to go outside and participate in recess, physical education classes and athletic practices and competitions, what level of activity is acceptable?
The Admin Team, together with our Health personnel, has been grappling with issue for over two years now. As might be expected, the discussions have been hearty and long. We are, however, united in our conclusion that we will not proceed with a shutdown mentality, but rather we will proceed with a policy that is pro-activity and will review air quality data in a liberal manner.
We now have the benefit of an American Embassy website that supplies us with daily/hourly data. The site includes an air quality number. That number is based on a chart, or rubric, developed by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
We take a reading each morning at 7:00 am and then later at 12:00 noon. Decisions are made regarding aerobic activity shutdown according to the school’s policy.
Individual requests to have more significant accommodations or to be excused from all activity will be honored with no penalty incurred by the student.
It is our goal to address air quality and health concerns while still maintaining a program that benefits our students’ physical education and fitness.