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NYC teachers return to public schools Tuesday

NYC public schools with ventilation issues
Posted at 5:35 AM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 08:49:25-04

NEW YORK CITY — The majority of New York City's 75,000 teachers are headed back their classrooms Tuesday for the first time since March.

However, educators from a number of city schools at 10 buildings will be logging in from home after it was announced Monday that the ventilation systems in their buildings are not safe enough to reopen just yet.

Michael Mulgrew and Randi Weingarten, the heads of two NYC teacher unions, spoke live Tuesday morning on the ventilation issues:

Ventilation Action Teams assessed 1,485 school buildings across the five boroughs, Department of Education spokesman Nathaniel Styer said. The city expects repairs to be completed within the next few days, but the DOE is identifying alternative spaces for learning if repairs aren't done by Sept. 21 when schools reopen.

The schools impacted are:

  • PS 45 - Horace E. Greene School
  • The Maxine Greene HS for Imaginative Inquiry (Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus)
  • Urban Assembly School for Media Studies (Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus)
  • High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice (Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus)
  • High School of Arts and Technology (Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus)
  • Manhattan / Hunter Science High School (Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus)
  • Special Music School (Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus)
  • P.S. M721 - Manhattan Occupational Training Center
  • Harvest Collegiate High School
  • Leadership & Public Service High School
  • P.S. Q222 - Fire Fighter Christopher A. Santora School
  • The Riverview School
  • PS 110
  • PS M094
  • Sixth Avenue Elementary School
  • Success Academy Charter School - Harlem 1 (Norman Thomas High School building)
  • Success Academy Charter School - Harlem 3 (Norman Thomas High School building)
  • Manhattan Academy for Arts & Language (Norman Thomas High School building)
  • Murray Hill Academy (Norman Thomas High School building)
  • Unity Center for Urban Technologies (Norman Thomas High School building)
  • High School of Economics and Finance

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said he'd monitor the repairs to make sure the problems were fixed.

“Where repairs and upgrades cannot be made, we will work with the DOE to help find alternative space before students return Sept. 21," he said.

In addition to repairs, the Division of School Facilities is installing portable High Efficiency Particulate Air filters in rooms, upgrading MERV-8 to MERV-13 filters where appropriate and flushing air two hours before and after occupation to improve air circulation.

There are still individual rooms in some schools that require ventilation repairs, but the schools as a whole have been deemed safe, officials said. Those rooms will not be used until repairs are made. Crews will prioritize the schools listed above for ventilation work.

Students, teachers and staff were initially expected to return to classrooms on Sept. 10 to begin the year with blended learning, which involves a weekly mix of in-person and remote instruction, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, teachers will start the year with six days of preparations on Sept. 8, 9, 10, 11, 14 and 15. Students will then begin the school year with transitional remote instruction on Sept. 16, 17 and 18.

School buildings will reopen for students as a mix of remote and in-person classes begin on Sept. 21

Officials have said the academic year will look a lot different from previous years, with hundreds of students participating in full-remote learning and others participating in a hybrid learning model.