31 Aug 2021

Everyday heroes: Homemade air filters for classrooms

If you’re not a parent, you may not be following the unfolding saga of public schools reopening this week, and how many of the buildings were decidedly not ready to welcome children back. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen took tours around local schools, sometimes accompanied by SBOE rep Jessica Sutter. Here are a few tweets they shared:

As school openings drew closer, many parents were concerned about the classrooms that didn’t seem to have a functional HVAC system. While DGS has worked hard in many schools– including those that were inaugurated this year, such as Eliot-Hine Middle School– many others have not been a priority, as late as last week. This inspired DCPS parent Peter Krupa to try out a Corsi-Rosenthal cube, or DIY air purifier like this one on WGBH’s website, prompted by a conversation with fellow DCPS parent and ANC commissioner Evan Yeats. As Yeats put it, “… every year we see DCPS and DGS waiting until the last minute and scrambling to fix problems they’ve known about for months– it’s just that it’s even more unacceptable this year and there is more at stake.”

A Corsi-Rosenthal Cube. Photo courtesy of Peter Krupa via screenshot.
A Corsi-Rosenthal Cube. Photo courtesy of Peter Krupa via screenshot.

Of course, there is more at stake because DCPS wants to make sure as many students are possible are back at school this school year and there is no real contingent plan should cases increase dramatically this fall. So Krupa got to work. “I started doing them on Thursday [August 26] I think? We… have delivered 24! They are super easy to make.. Once you get the hang of it, it takes about 20 minutes to make one.”

When I asked him how inspiration to replicate these filters came about, Krupa tells me, “I was seeing tweets about educators not having working HVAC, so I asked if anyone was making [the filters]… and the answer was no, so I was like, well, I have some Twitter followers, a flexible schedule, and a minivan, so let’s try this. It has worked OK so far– lots of demand!”

So far, Peter has delivered cubes to nine schools and seven more are on a cube waiting list. If your classroom needs a cube, the request form is here. And if you want to donate your time, money or talents to ensure that all the classrooms that need a filter have a filter, you can always donate to their GoFundMe or follow and Tweet at Peter at @peterkrupa.

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