The city is going to extremes to make sure this school year doesn’t get flushed.
Department of Education workers have been spotted using pieces of toilet paper stuck to the ends of sticks to gauge the airflow inside classrooms as kids return in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One stunned city councilman exposed the bizarre testing method in all its low-tech glory by posting a tweet Wednesday showing a worker poking at a ceiling vent with bathroom tissue affixed to a flimsy piece of wood using a binder clip.
“The official and comprehensive NYC inter-agency classroom ventilation inspection process,” Mark Treyger zinged in the post.
When quizzed about the tissue rig, Mayor Bill de Blasio conceded that he wasn’t qualified to issue a “a great technical answer” — but insisted that folks shouldn’t not to diss the Charmin.
“That’s actually the way the CDC recommends you test these things,” he explained.
De Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced this week that the DOE would vet all city school buildings for adequate ventilation to guard against coronavirus transmission.
The pair said that DOE engineers would spearhead the sweep and that the vast majority of schools would be cleared for operation by September 1.
Carranza also commented on the tissue method at a Wednesday press conference.
“It’s all part of determining and making sure that we’re able to have air flow in a building,” he said. “That’s a CDC recommended method for testing flow.”
He stressed that air quality was also being tested throughout city schools.
A City Hall spokesperson later pointed to a CDC document that confirmed its endorsement of the TP test.
“Several methods that provide a visual, qualitative measure of pressure differentials (i.e., airflow direction) include smoke-tube tests or placing flutter strips, ping-pong balls, or tissue in the air stream,” the language reads.
De Blasio grew annoyed when reporters pressed him on the primitive optics of the approach.
“Guys, I understand why it captures your imagination,” he said. “But I don’t want to take one school, one person and treat that as the entire school system.”
Hizzoner said he would present a DOE engineer to better explain the overall process Thursday.
The city teachers and principals unions have expressed concern about the lack of proper ventilation in aged school buildings and the risks for heightened risk of coronavirus transmission.