BOSTON — The Boston Teachers Union is calling for verification of adequate ventilation in all schools before any timeline is set on students returning to the classroom.
Boston is entertaining the possibility of welcoming some students back to school for in-person learning for fall.
Erik Berg, Vice President of the Boston Teachers Union, told Boston 25 News he does not believe the conditions will be safe for students or teachers.
Berg said poor ventilation in many of the school buildings is a major concern.
According to Berg, only 32 of the district’s 125 schools have HVAC systems. He said the windows in many of the schools don’t fully open.
“Opening the windows is not an answer when some of the windows don’t open at all and many others only open a few inches,” said Berg.
The state hasn’t set specific school air standards for this pandemic, which leaves it up to each district to make their own determination.
“We are calling for a remote start with a very small ramp up when it’s safe to do so and when conditions can be verified in the buildings,” added Berg. “It’s better to have a delayed opening than a disastrous opening.”
Indoor air quality expert Serene Al-Momen said schools that do have HVAC systems should be using quality air filters.
She said it’s crucial to open windows whenever possible to bring in outdoor air, and also recommends that schools use portable air purification units for every classroom.
“Ventilation and HVAC systems are the most effective way to remove the virus if it exists in the space,” said Serene Al-Momen, CEO of Senseware. “The risk is as simple as other kids getting sick at a higher rate.”
Boston Public Schools is planning to offer both hybrid and remote learning options to students. School officials said parents will be contacted to select the model in which their child will be using.
The district said it plans to set up classrooms so students are six feet apart and has identified isolation rooms in each building for those suspected of having COVID-19 symptoms.
BPS officials emphasize that the plans are still preliminary and subject to change.
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