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The state of play: 54% of public school districts have outdated ventilation systems, a 2020 GAO analysis says.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

8 mins ago - World

Israeli and Palestinian officials are speaking again

Isaac Herzog (L), then the leader of the opposition, meets with Mahmoud Abbas in 2015. Photo: Abbas MomaniI/AFP via Getty

Relations between the new Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have shifted substantially in recent weeks, with Israeli officials going so far as to call it “a renaissance."

Why it matters: During Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year tenure as prime minister, relations deteriorated to the point where there was almost no contact other than security coordination.

40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan group reaches agreement on $1.2 trillion "hard" infrastructure bill

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

After weeks of long nights and endless Zoom calls, a bipartisan group of senators finally reached a deal on "the major issues" in their $1.2 trillion "hard" infrastructure package, GOP senators involved in the talks announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: It could be days before the group finishes writing the bill, but the Senate can begin debating the legislation in earnest now that they have resolved the outstanding issues. The bill needs 60 votes to advance in the Senate.

60 mins ago - Health

Pfizer raises estimate of COVID-19 vaccine sales by 29%

Pfizer anticipates manufacturing 4 billion doses of its vaccine next year. Photo: Chet Strange/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pfizer expects revenue from the COVID-19 vaccine, co-developed by BioNTech, will reach $33.5 billion this year — a 29% jump from the previously estimated $26 billion.

Why it matters: This vaccine, which has dramatically slowed the coronavirus pandemic, is on pace to be the world's top-selling drug of all time, by far. And now Pfizer is pushing for people to get a third "booster" shot of its vaccine to combat the growing Delta variant.