NYC deploys School Ventilation Action Teams to ensure building safety

New York City schools are planning to reopen with a mix of in-class and remote learning

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020
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CeFaan Kim reports on the new inspection effort to make sure New York City public school buildings are safe for students.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- With the start of school just over two weeks away, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza on Tuesday announced a new inspection effort to make sure New York City public school buildings are safe for students.

Inspections by newly formed School Ventilation Action Teams got underway Tuesday morning and are set to be completed by September 1.

"So we're marshaling the resources, not only of the Department of Education and the school construction authority, but other agencies as well," de Blasio said. "Coming together to make sure that every school is ready, the ventilation systems are working, that windows are open, even if they weren't open in the past, because there's nothing as powerful as fresh air when it comes to fighting this virus."

The teams consist of ventilation experts and engineers who will identify and address any problems with things like supply and exhaust fans and even windows.

"Each Action Team is made up of independent ventilation experts and professional licensed engineers that are contracted by the School Construction Authority to walk through each and every room where learning will happen," Carranza said.

Rooms in a given building that do not pass inspection will not be used.

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"We're in motion already, ready to make good on these promises," Carranza said. "We have purchased over 10,000 portable air filters for nurses offices, isolation rooms, and any rooms that these inspections reveal need additional circulation. And I repeat, inspections find that entire school, or particular rooms, do not have adequate ventilation, and we will not allow anyone to use those spaces, until they are made safe."

All the results will be posted online by September 4, six days before classes are set to begin on September 10.

Meanwhile, Carranza said that since announcing the outdoor learning option on Monday, 243 schools applied for outdoor space.

"There is a real hunger, a real enthusiasm for that," he said. "Our commitment is to turn these around as soon as possible. Some will be turned around today."

If they apply by Friday, they will get a response from the city by next week.

The city's current reopening plan calls for a mix of in-person and remote learning, with students taking turns in classrooms when they return in the fall. But more than a quarter of students have decided to go with the all-remote option instead.

WATCH: UFT president lays out teachers' proposal for reopening NYC schools

"Any teacher, any staff member - whatever they need, they'll get with PPEs, there'll be plenty available for each school," de Blasio said last week. "We want kids to come to school already wearing a face covering. We want kids wearing a face covering wherever they go. In school, out of school - any kid who needs one will get one."

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