In an effort to further combat COVID-19 and keep students in the classroom, Portage Area School District superintendent Eric Zelanko purchased enough box fans and filters to make 100 Corsi-Rosenthal Cubes. These inexpensive and effective tools are used to clean the air and have been suggested for use in all classrooms by the Cambria-Somerset COVID-19 Task Force. Letters were sent out to all school districts in Cambria and Somerset counties to encourage the implementation of the filters, as well as vaccinations, masks and testing.

Only a handful of simple items are needed to construct a single cube: 20-inch box fan, duct tape, cardboard, and four or five 20-inch MERV-13 furnace filters.

Eric had started purchasing the items for the filters prior to the task force letter, but saw the letter as the backing he needed to continue his pursuit.

His goal is to always “do what’s best for the students.”

The air filtration systems are being constructed by Portage Area High School students under the guidance of shop teachers Dennis Link and Bill Bearer.

A prototype of the filter has already been in use in one classroom.

When the fan is turned on, a piece of paper can be held up to the side of the cube and it instantly connects to the air suction, showing that it is functioning properly.

Not only will it be useful for COVID-19, Eric stated it will also be useful during flu season and for students who suffer from allergies.

The boxes can clean about 600 cubic feet per minute, which will filter an average-sized classroom in under two hours.

Three classrooms have the newly made filters in place and Eric hasn’t received any complaints about them. The rest of the cubes are expected to be installed Friday.