Air filter backorder delays hybrid learning transition for St. Paul Public Schools

St. Paul Public Schools will not be transitioning into its next phase of its hybrid learning plan because the district is waiting to receive a supply of air filters to install in its buildings, according to district officials.

Earlier this month, SPPS approved Stage 1 of its hybrid plan to allow about 500 students in the district's special education programs to return to the classroom. In Stage 2, about 9,800 students in Pre-K through second grade would have been able to transition to hybrid learning.

"Prioritizing the health needs of students and staff is the first guiding principle for planning to reopen our schools," read a statement from SPPS. "At this time, SPPS does not have enough air filters with MERV 11 ratings needed for each Stage 2 building to safely transition to hybrid learning."

Air filters with a higher MERV rating are better at capturing particles. According to SPPS, the buildings that are currently open have the filters, but the filters for the buildings needed for Stage 2 have not arrived yet due to a national backorder.

Other than the air filter issue, the district had met all of its other readiness targets to move to the next stage. The district will reassess on Oct. 30.