Lenoir Schools purchases $2M in portable air filter systems

BOX Pure Air is supplying the district with portable HEPA units paid for by federal relief funds

An air circulation system at Nina Otero Community School is seen, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The system was rated "MERV 9," which is a lower rating than the state's original standard for coronavirus safety, but the highest the school's system can handle. The state amended its guidance in October to allow schools to expand in-person learning with the highest-rated filter available to them. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

RALEIGH — Two months ago, the Lenoir County Public Schools System entered into a $2 million dollar agreement to purchase air filter systems from SinglePoint Inc.’s subsidiary, BOX Pure Air. 

Ryan Cowell, CEO for BOX Pure Air, tells North State Journal that Lenoir County Public Schools is the first school district that has plans to implement BOX Pure Air portable HEPA units in every single space within the district’s schools.

“Many schools have the added issues of age, which has made air quality a difficult task to tackle,” Cowell said in an August 2021 press release on air purification systems for schools, homes and offices. “COVID and schools taking extra precautions have brought added attention to the issue, and the government is providing funding to help drive IAQ [Indoor Air Quality] improvement in schools.” 

Cowell added, “Fleet Management is so important because it allows schools to regularly check air quality and fix little problems before they become big problems. Studies show that using Portable HEPA air cleaners can reduce risk of exposure by more than half.”

In a brief phone interview, Cowell told North State Journal that they don’t see Lenoir’s purchase so much of a COVID issue, but rather a general health issue that can help curb absenteeism.

In addition to Lenoir schools, Cowell said that they are in talks with Fayetteville State University, Pasquotank schools, and schools in Carteret County. He also indicated the company has had conversations with various community colleges in the state but also with Wake Forest, UNC Greensboro and Duke Hospitals in Raleigh. 

“Regarding the Air Box system, we are excited to provide these air filtration systems for students, teachers, and stakeholders that enter our facilities,” Lenoir Schools Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey told North State Journal in an email response.  

“ESSER funding allows for purchases that are intended to improve the air quality in schools. The Air Box units have been widely applauded by staff members and students,” wrote Harvey. 

ESSER is the acronym for the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Relief Fund. 

In 2020, through the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress allotted roughly $13.2 billion to the Education Stabilization Fund for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund).  

In January 2021, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA), added $54.3 billion to ESSER. In March of the same year, an additional $122 billion went to ESSER under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP). 

An acceptable use for ESSER funds includes repairs or improvements to school facilities to keep them in operation but also to reduce possible risks of virus transmission or other factors that may impact the health of students or staff. 

Related to repairs and improvements, the funds can also be used for projects to improve the indoor air quality in schools. Projects can include upgrades to heating, cooling, ventilation, filtering, and a host of other possible projects related to air quality issues.

About A.P. Dillon 651 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_