Redwoods Guidelines for Reopening Indoor Facilities

Many of our customers have re-started outdoor programs, and many are beginning to start programs in indoor spaces too. We have already released guidance that recommended a phased reopening approach, but wanted to continue to update that guidance and offer our support as you decide what reopening approach is right for your organization.

According to the World Health Organization, “The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.” Much research is ongoing, but we do know that person-to-person contact is a major contributor to spreading the virus. We also know that all activities done outdoors are better than any activities done indoors. This means that if you are opening indoor programming, then we highly recommend finding ways to make those indoor environments more like the conditions you would find outdoors. A central component of this strategy is to ensure adequate air circulation.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) released guidance to increase ventilation to help lessen the spread. Here’s a summary:

  • Increase outdoor air ventilation, and open outdoor dampers as high as 100%, to eliminate air recirculation and bring in more outdoor air.
  • Keep HVAC systems running additional hours—up to 24 hours per day—to enhance air circulation.
  • Pause operations every few hours to clean surfaces and allow droplets to dissipate.
  • Add a portable air filtration system with HEPA filters, and consider adding UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) lights to the system. Check with your HVAC vendor regarding the use of HEPA filters.

Research is still being completed and released, and it will likely take years to fully understand how the virus spreads. It’s important to note that ASHRAE clearly states that the steps above are secondary to social distancing, cleaning, enhanced hygiene and sanitation. Because of this we continue to recommend indoor operations remain closed. However, we understand that the decision is not always that simple.

The University of Notre Dame is an excellent example of the competing pressures you are all under. When considering how to reopen Notre Dame in the Fall, the university president wrote, “If we gave the first principle [to protect the health of our students, faculty, staff and their loved ones] absolute priority, our decision about reopening would be easy…However, were we to take that course, we would risk failing to provide the next generation of leaders the education they need and to do the research and scholarship so valuable to our society.” Finding the balance between ensuring absolute safety and providing service to the community is challenging, but essential.

We know that safety is our shared priority and we encourage you to consider all of our recommendations as you re-open the indoor portions of your operation.