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Clearing the education air - with data

Head Start Oakland is a federally and state-funded early childhood education program that promotes school readiness for children from birth to age five. The program's goal is to serve underserved populations to ensure they receive a quality education.


Head Start invested in Primary.Health and Poppy to reduce growing absenteeism rates by improving indoor air safety.


Air quality measurement, pathogen mitigation, and ongoing monitoring ensure students and teachers stay in school and healthy regardless of the local air quality status or infection risk —a concern this winter.


As airborne illnesses still remain active, the time is now to mitigate disease spread and help students and teachers operate with fewer restrictions, freeing them to optimize in-school learning.


"Improving air quality provides safer facilities for Head Start Oakland to support young families, protecting them from harmful wildfire smoke, pollution, or seasonal illness. Primary.Health and Poppy support us with actionable and visual data," said Diveena Cooppan at Head Start Oakland.
"We can now measure air quality in each room quickly, efficiently, and repeatedly. We can improve air filtration, track our progress, and deliver better results for everyone at Head Start Oakland's facilities. Most importantly, this helps us make sure students and staff don't miss critical learning days."


To address this critical gap in data, the team suggested conducting a BreatheScore Professional 3D scan to track air clearance rates and detect pathogen pathways within buildings and across classrooms.


This was conducted across more than 13 sites and 29 unique rooms to help leaders identify short and long-term ways to improve air safety, measuring ventilation performance against California state guidelines. As an initial pilot of four schools, the goal was to show demonstrated quantifiable improvements in air safety.

While all schools showed considerable improvements, the surprising results from one of the schools involved in the pilot created tremendous excitement and validation of the importance of qualifiable data to measure air flow rates and use low-cost methods to increase safety.

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Example of classroom BreatheScore Professional 3D scan, giving clear data to identify transmission blind spots, where clean air flow exists, and where is lacking. In post analysis report cost effective mitigation strategies are suggested and retested. 


Without this data adequate air change and cleanliness would be assumed.   

In this school, the average improvement across classrooms was 2.5 eACH, which equates to a 31.5% decrease in infection risk based on large-scale studies of transmission in schools.  


​Poppy and Primary.Health collaborated for a second pilot with Head Start Oakland in 13 locations. At Head Start, Primary.Health and Poppy helped severely vulnerable schools without the ability or budget to make major HVAC upgrades to improve air safety for students and faculty. They also laid the groundwork for program management, empowerment, and the project prioritization required for a large-scale product launch.


All locations tested increased their air clearance rates and resolved in-room hotspots and transmission pathways—improvements that impact the lives of students, staff, and the community. The testing also evaluated the effectiveness of recent investments, providing a long-term plan to improve and address issues related to infectious disease. After an HVAC improvement, all rooms in Head Start Oakland achieved a level of air quality as safe as wearing an N95 mask.

Ultimately, the collaboration created safer, more productive learning environments that empower participants and staff to stay in person while reducing the need for restrictive efforts that can place a heavy burden on school staff. 

“It’s important that we look to technology to empower educational leaders to ensure the health of children and the minimization of education loss,” said Andrew Kobylinksi, CEO and co-founder of Primary.Health


The White House Clean Indoor Air Initiative (March 2022) focused solely on the outsized role of indoor air in the transmission of COVID (and other consequential pathogens) within all types of communities.

Tracy Enger, from the Indoor Environments Division of the EPA, delivered an urgent presentation entirely about the powerful effects of indoor air dynamics for American schoolchildren in the pandemic, and beyond it: “We have unique challenges when we address air quality in schools because of the vulnerable populations in there...we want to come out of this crisis with ongoing and lasting
outcomes and commitments.”


Head Start School


Oakland, CA

The Problem

Reduce the education days lost due to in-school airborne health-issue transmission.

The Solution

Deliver an affordable and scalable program for reducing sick days with air safety insights that focus on improvement efforts and mitigation strategies.

The Outcome

A 30% increase in air clearance and safety

Let's Get


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