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City Inspecting Ventilation Systems at Classrooms Ahead of Schools Reopening

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza toured Village Academy in Far Rockaway to observe how the school is preparing for a socially-distanced reopening on August 12. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Aug. 26, 2020 By Allie Griffin

The city began inspecting air ventilation systems at classrooms Tuesday, with less than three weeks before public schools reopen, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday.

Every classroom and space inside a school building will be inspected by a team of independent engineers, joined by the Department of Buildings and FDNY employees. The team will assess each space and determine if there is adequate ventilation based on CDC and WHO guidelines.

Thorough air ventilation is necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 indoors, experts say. Both air filtration and fresh air through open windows help.

For weeks, teachers and school administrators have worried about how a lack of proper air circulation at older school buildings puts them at greater risk of contracting the virus.

De Blasio said Tuesday that the special teams will ensure that both mechanical and natural air circulation and ventilation systems are in place prior to reopening. They will repair and supply exhaust fans, ensure windows can be opened, and employ high-efficiency filters.

The Department of Education (DOE) will place 10,000 portable air purifiers in school buildings by the first day of class, Sept. 10. The air purifiers will be place in nurses’ offices and isolation rooms and later added to other rooms as needed.

Any room that doesn’t have adequate ventilation will not be used until it is made safe, Schools Chancellor Richard Carrazana said.

The inspections will be completed by Sept. 1 and the results will be shared publicly on a rolling basis, beginning this week through Friday, Sept. 4.

“We’re leaving no stone unturned when it comes to our school buildings, and a robust approach to ventilation is a critical piece of our health and safety plan,” Carranza said. “The science is clear: well-ventilated buildings are safer buildings — and we’re going to make sure that’s true for every school by the first day.”

City public schools are set to reopen Sept. 10 with a blended model of in-person and remote learning.

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