Fitchburg schools adding hundreds of air purifiers before hybrid learning starts

FITCHBURG, Mass. — As school districts across Massachusetts work to upgrade their ventilation systems to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Fitchburg Public Schools is adding air purifiers to all classrooms.

District employees are working quickly to install 350 units throughout their 8 school buildings before students return for a hybrid learning model on Nov. 2.

“It’s critically important for us to be able to provide the appropriate amount of fresh air for students and staff,” explained Craig Chalifoux, director of finance and operations for Fitchburg Public Schools.

According to Chalifoux, custodians will be working overtime throughout the weekend to ensure that the Carrier Air Purifiers are up and running in time.

“We have to provide a safe and supportive physical environment for our students and our staff, so we were going to do everything in our power to make sure we can not only gain their confidence to make them feel better about coming back, but also using the mechanicals that make good sense with this science with what we’re experiencing with COVID,” he said.

At Reingold Elementary School on Friday, Boston 25 News was allowed access into a classroom to see how the system worked.

Chalifoux explained that each unit can purify the air in an average classroom about 3 times per hour.

The air purifiers will act as a ventilation supplement to the district’s HVAC systems, which are currently undergoing maintenance and part upgrades.

“Knowing that we wanted to bring students back as quickly as we could under the right conditions, we decided to use this type of supportive piece rather than a wholesale replacement of an HVAC system, which could take months and months, if not a year,” he said.

The average building in the Fitchburg Public School system was built in the 1950s, added Chalifoux.

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