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What a Lovely Day

November 8, 2020 pm30 5:07 pm

The sun is shining. People are in good moods, for obvious reason. The leaves are still on the trees, but in an array of greens, yellows, oranges, reds…

When we go to school tomorrow (many of us) the windows will be open, allowing the lovely New York City air to fill our rooms, replacing the air we exhale…

If someone is spreading the virus, it gets into the air, attached to droplets and aerosols and all those technical things that really just mean “floating bits of virus.” Now, just because it is present, that doesn’t mean you get sick. That depends, at least partly, on how much is present, and how long it hangs around.

That’s where the lovely weather comes in. Open your windows, and a small difference between pressure inside and outside will move the air. The more times each hour you get a fresh batch of outside air replacing the air you and your students have exhaled, the safer you are.

You are also on the safer side if the number of people in the room with you is low. I hear that only a quarter of NYC students are physically attending school – the majority are learning on-line. And even those quarter – they don’t come every day. They might come every other, or every third, or less. That puts our schools daily somewhere under 10% of capacity – which is pretty good for limiting the spread of the virus.

You can also filter the air. Not really “you” – the school can. But the filters would need to be HEPA or MERV-16, or at least MERV-13 to get the virus out. It sounds like most schools don’t have these. And the schools that do, most have them attached to their air-conditioning systems. But not the heating systems.

It is a lovely day today. Today we do not need to worry about what is about to happen to our classrooms. But we should. In the next two weeks we might have consistently nice weather. We might get lucky. But that luck will not hold for all of November and all of December. It will get cold. AC has already shut down, and heating systems will rev up, and circulate un-filtered air throughout our buildings, including your classroom.

What do we do when it is too cold to open the windows, but too dangerous not to?

Where is the plan?

For his part, de blasio is trying to increase in-person attendance, and increase the risk. Being mayor makes him in charge, it does not make him smart. And Carranza does what he’s told.

There has been a lot of time for the ventilation and filtration systems to be installed. If they have not, then the building is not safe to occupy when it gets too cold to open windows.

We need to rely on the UFT – even though the leadership seems heavily invested in keeping buildings open. If you will have a ventilation problem when the heat gets turned on – bring it to the Chapter Leader, have them escalate the issue within the union. Remind them they have an obligation to keep our students and their members safe. Remind them that even before Labor Day they knew:

“For most schools, maximizing outside air intake and eliminating recirculating air is a short term solution until winter, but with the mild outside weather now it is achievable and needed until the remainder of the MERV-13 filter shipment arrives.”




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