9.15.2020 QPS School Ventilation Message

9.15.2020 Message from Mayor Koch & Superintendent Mulvey
Posted on 09/15/2020

Dear Members of the Quincy School Community:

We are writing to you today to address concerns relative to the air quality and ventilation systems in the Quincy Public Schools.  Within the last couple of days there has been misinformation spread concerning this issue and the overall safety of our school system.  We will address these specific concerns, but want to state unequivocally that our school buildings meet or exceed all state and local safety standards and that it is safe for our students and staff to return to school.  Of course, all safety standards that we are now used to, including wearing a mask, maintaining proper social distancing, following sanitization procedures and following proper hygiene protocols, will be essential to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  This is true in our community and in our schools.  As long as we follow these safety procedures, our students and staff will be able to operate in the safest possible environment that facilitates effective learning.

Quincy is very fortunate to have its own team of HVAC experts employed by the City of Quincy Public Buildings Department.  Many other cities and towns do not have the resources that Quincy has in this regard and must depend on outside contractors for this work.  Again, this is not the case for Quincy and therefore, over the last several weeks, the Public Buildings Department, under the direction of Mechanical Engineer Mr. David Scott, has been systematically assessing and, where necessary, making repairs to all the ventilation systems in the Quincy Public Schools.  To date, all systems are operating at optimal ventilation levels and new filters have been installed at all school buildings. 

Following this proactive service and repair of the school building ventilation systems, each building complies with its individual ventilation code requirement.  As Mr. Scott indicated in his report, which is accessible via the Quincy Public Schools website and attached to this letter, all school buildings generally exchange air at a rate of 2.3 cycles per hour (or 1 air exchange every 26 minutes) or greater.  This air exchange rate, which in itself meets all state and local code requirements, does not take into account the opening of school windows, which will greatly increase the air exchange rate even further.  For this reason, all schools have been directed to open the windows and allow additional fresh air to be taken into the building.  This additional fresh air will then be circulated through the building ventilation system.  It is anticipated that this approach will allow all school buildings to have and maintain excellent air exchange rates.  It should also be noted here that replacement windows have been ordered for two classrooms at two elementary schools where the original windows were not designed to open and those will be installed as soon as the windows arrive. 

In addition to the above described comprehensive steps, Mr. Scott and his team have also ordered                upgraded filters to be installed in many of our buildings.  These filters are due to arrive in about four weeks and will be installed as soon as they arrive.  As stated above, all schools have had their filters changed and they will continue to be changed per manufacturer recommendations of three (3) times per year.  The filters currently installed in all of our school buildings are MERV-8 filters.  Mr. Scott, based on ventilation unit design, has ordered MERV-11 and MERV-13 filter upgrades to be installed in ventilation units that have the capacity for these filters.  Again, this is an additional above-and-beyond step to add extra filtration capabilities to an already robust ventilation system.  

Over the summer, Mr. Scott and his team have designed and will install exhaust fan systems that will provide negative pressure in each designated medical waiting room space.  In the event that a suspected case of COVID-19 occurs in a school building, this space will be used in order to isolate the potential case until he or she can leave the building and seek medical attention.  Similarly, the nurses’ offices will be outfitted with air filtration/purification units (Field Controls model TRIO-1000P).  These units are designed to filter down to .3 microns and serve a room of up to 1000 square feet.  Again, this step will add additional protection to an already robust and safe ventilation system. 

Lastly, we would like all staff, students and parents to know that the above described efforts are not “one and done” events.  Mr. Scott and his team will proactively monitor all school ventilation systems throughout the year so that these systems will continue to operate at optimal levels. 

We are committed to providing a safe learning environment for everyone.  It is our hope that this communication assuages any concerns about the safety of our school buildings.  As you know, we are living in unprecedented times and anxiety levels regarding COVID-19 remain high.  We do not want our school buildings to be an additional unnecessary source of anxiety for anyone.  Therefore, please be assured that our school buildings are safe and that the City of Quincy and the Quincy Public Schools will continue to work proactively to ensure they remain so throughout the school year.

If you have any questions or additional concerns, please contact either of us.


Sincerely,    

Mayor Thomas P. Koch

mayorkoch@quincyma.gov

617-376-1990

 

Kevin W. Mulvey, J.D.

Superintendent of Schools

kevinmulvey@quincypublicschools.com

617-984-8701