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No, air purifiers can't fully protect from COVID-19 in a room of unmasked people

As students return to the classroom, many parents were wondering how safe their children are if they're in a classroom with unmasked students and teachers.

ARKANSAS, USA — Mask requirements continue to be a hot topic as schools reopen for the new year. 

As students return to the classroom, many parents are wondering how safe their children are if they're in a classroom with unmasked students and teachers. Let's verify:

This school year, the Arkansas Department of Education left it up to individual school districts to decide if face coverings would be required by students and staff. 

A THV11 Verify viewer wanted to know: "Is it true that an air purifier can provide enough protection from COVID in a classroom with mostly unmasked students and teachers?"

That claim is false. 

Our sources: the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and Dr. Amanda Novack, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Baptist Health. 

ADH says: "air purifiers can be used in conjunction with other prevention strategies in schools but should not be solely relied on."

But high efficiency particulate air filters, also known as HEPA filters, are the preferred air purifiers when used. 

Dr. Novack agrees, saying good ventilation is important to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

"Air purifiers really can be an important part of that in making a classroom safer but an air purifier is not a substitution for masks. So if you actually have someone that's infectious, a mask is really the most important tool to prevent transmission in a classroom," he said. 

So we can verify: No, air purifiers cannot provide enough protection from COVID-19 in a room with unmasked individuals. 

If you have something you want verified, let us help. Email us at verify@thv11.com.