GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. — When kids head back to school this year, every one of them in Erie County will be going to a classroom with an air purifier made by a company right here in Buffalo.
"Of course, we hope COVID numbers go down, but the air purifiers have really allowed us to open schools in a safe and comfortable environment for teachers, for staff, for students, and for parents," said Dr. Rubie Harris, Assistant Superintendent of Grand Island Central Schools.
2 On Your Side visited kindergarten and first grade classrooms in the Grand Island Central School District on Tuesday where the air purifiers are already set up. The filters are designed to last for five years.
"It's got a HEPA filter and a carbon filter, and as you can see the grate here, it actually pulls in air from all four sides. Pulls it through the filter and it exits the top here. As it exits, it creates a circular motion, so it's getting all of the air in the room as it filters," explained Lauren McMillan, President of Austin Air.
The money to pay for the 12,500 air purifiers going into every Erie County classroom came from the federal government's American Rescue Plan.
They are made by Austin Air in Buffalo and cost about $700 each.
"We're hoping now that we have these super air filtration systems, we know now to stay home when we're sick, regardless of whether our COVID test is positive or not, if somebody is hacking I think they'll know not, hopefully they'll know not to come to work or to school when they're sick, and we're optimistic that we're going to see less transmission of respiratory viruses in the classroom," said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health.
Austin Air's president says other counties have also put in orders. The air filters also help people with allergies and asthma.