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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Improving schools' ventilation systems won't only help keep kids safe from COVID-19, but may also improve their academic performance in the process.

Why it matters: As schools figure out what they need to do to safely resume in-person classes, some experts are advocating for options — like better air filtration — that would yield added benefits beyond the pandemic.

The big picture: Good ventilation is the most effective and practical way to clear a space of contaminants, like COVID-19.

  • For decades, studies have also linked better ventilation to increases in productivity, morale and even cognitive function.
  • Conversely, poor indoor air quality, sometimes known as "sick building syndrome," can cause morale problems and absences due to respiratory infections or allergies, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The state of play: 54% of public school districts have outdated ventilation systems, a 2020 GAO analysis says.

  • Schools can use COVID relief funding to upgrade those systems, among other modifications.

What they're saying: "[Productivity] becomes hard to measure on the level of an individual building, but if you had 2–4% improvement in productivity, when you monetize that, that is a huge benefit to get that much more on the bottom line without having any additional staff costs," William Bahnfleth, professor of architectural engineering at Pennsylvania State University, tells Axios.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
18 mins ago - Science

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A model of the Tianwen-1 Mars rover is displayed during an exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

59 mins ago - World

UN: 10,000 Palestinians displaced in Gaza as Israel-Hamas fighting escalates

A Palestinian woman walks after she collects her belongings inside her damaged house following an Israeli air in the northern Gaza Strip. Photo: Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."

The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Seven people, including one child, have been killed in Israel, according to Israeli authorities.