Ten public school buildings won’t be able to welcome teachers back Tuesday to prepare for the start of in-person learning on Sept. 21 because of problems with the buildings’ ventilation system, the Department of Education said Monday.
“In anticipation of September 21st, the City is prioritizing the following ten buildings for ventilation system and airflow repairs, and we expect a number of these repairs to be completed within the next couple of days,” DOE spokesman Styer Nathaniel told The Post Monday.
The six affected buildings in Manhattan house multiple schools: the Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus, P.S. M721 – Manhattan Occupational Training Center, Harvest Collegiate High School, Leadership & Public Service High School, P.S. M094, Sixth Avenue Elementary School, Norman Thomas High School, and the High School for Economics and Finance.
Two affected buildings in Brooklyn house the Horace Greene School and its annex. There are also two affected Queens buildings that encompass P.S. Q222 Fire Fighter Christopher A. Santora School, P.S. 110, and The Riverview School.
“In the meantime, staff of these ten buildings will temporarily work from home, and we are identifying alternative space for learning if necessary if repairs are not completed by September 21st,” Nathaniel said.
Last week one of the principals at Upper West Side’s Martin Luther King high school building told teachers that over 100 rooms in the facility had been added to a “condemned” list because they had little to no air flow.
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The majority of teachers are due in classrooms Sept. 8. Remote learning starts on Sept. 16. Mayor Bill de Blasio delayed the beginning of in-person learning from Sept. 10 to Sept. 21 last week after education unions threatened to strike, saying city officials hadn’t done enough to protect against a coronavirus outbreak in the buildings.
“School leaders will work with Division of School Facilities staff to determine timelines for repairs and the impact temporary room closures might have on school programming,” Nathaniel said.
The agency will also improve air circulation by installing portable High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filers in rooms, flushing air two hours before and after occupation and upgrading filters from MERV-8 to MERV-13.
United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew released a statement on the delay.
“Keeping everyone safe is our top priority,” Mulgrew said.
“Inspections by the DOE and the UFT identified these serious ventilation issues, and we will continue to monitor these buildings and other schools to make sure all ventilation problems are solved. Where repairs and upgrades cannot be made, we will work with the DOE to help find alternative space before students return Sept 21,” he added