Colleagues,

Since the COVID-19 pandemic involves an airborne virus, common sense suggests that ventilation plays a critical role. That is why the RTA has engaged  independent Industrial Hygienists to confirm that all our schools meet the accepted standards for mitigating the danger. The Phase 1 schools, which reopened on January 4th, were inspected first and were found to largely meet the acceptable standards. Phase 3 schools, scheduled to reopen on February 22nd, will be inspected next week. And we just received the independent expert’s report on Phase 2 school which reopened yesterday. 

Of the 19 schools in Phase 2, ten schools (#2, #10, #16, #17, #19, #34, #39, #46, #52 and #54) were found to have MERV 13 filters and thus meet the minimum CDC standards. However, nine schools in Phase 2 (#7, #8, #9, #22, #23, #50, School of the Arts, Early Childhood Education Center, and Office of Adult and Career Education Services) had MERV 8 filters and were flagged for not meeting the minimum CDC standards. That’s almost half of the schools in Phase 2, already reopened, not meeting minimum standards for ventilation and safety.

The full reports from the independent Industrial Hygienists were shared with RTA Faculty Representatives at Phase 2 schools and are posted on the RTA website <http://rochesterteachers.org/ventilation-reports-for-phase-2-schools/>. We have also brought the reports to the attention of the District and requested that they address the matter immediately so as not expose teachers, students and others to further risk. The District’s initial response, shared with RTA, is below. In a conversation earlier this evening, RCSD’s Director of Operations Michael Schmidt committed to attend to these concerns as soon as possible.

We will soon relay to you what we are learning about other aspects of the District’s reopening of our schools. In addition to accounts from individual  teachers, we are receiving and tabulating information and reports from RTA Faculty Representatives through the Readiness For Safety and Instruction surveys and needs assessment instrument. And we will certainly continue our strong advocacy for more safety and a more doable instructional program for teachers and their students.

Adam Urbanski, RTA President

RCSD’s email shared with RTA today:
From: “Seeger, Matthew E” <Matthew.Seeger@rcsdk12.org>
Date: February 9, 2021 at 11:31:34 AM EST
To: “Schmidt, Michael C” <Michael.Schmidt@rcsdk12.org>
Subject:Building ventilation concerns by RTA

Mike,The buildings that were listed as potentially considered unsafe to occupy have been reviewed by facilities please review the following responses.

  • School 7
    • Recently modernized building mechanical ventilation systems are operable and providing fresh outside air to the spaces while we await the installation of merv 13 filters
  • School 8
    • Mechanical ventilation is operable.  The custodian has merv 13 filters they will be installed this week to allow for reduced ventilation levels
  • School 9
    • Repairs were made to the air handlers serving the spaces 103 – 107 airflow will be confirmed by RCSD staff
    • Repairs were made to the air handler serving rooms 126 – 129A airflow will be confirmed by RCSD staff
  • School 10
    • Mechanical ventilation systems are new and operating with merv 13 air filters installed behind merv 8 prefilters
  • School 16
    • Mechanical ventilation systems are new and operating with merv 13 air filters installed behind merv 8 prefilters
  • School 22
    • Horizontal Unit vents and Vertical unit vents are new and operating at an increased outside air intake level while we await the delivery of merv 13 filters.
    • Central air handlers are new and running with merv 13 filters installed behind merv 8 prefilters
  • School 23
    • Cooling only air handler in main office only works when there is a need for cooling.  The operable window will provide adequate passive ventilation.
    • Building central air handling system is operational and providing outside air to the building for ventilation.
  • School 50
    • Central air handling units are operational and have a maximized ventilation operation until merv 13 filters are installed.
    • Horizontal Unit Ventilators are operational and have a maximized ventilation operation until merv 13 filters are installed.
  • SOTA
    • Building custodial staff are working with the maintenance team to service and inspect all fan powered boxes in the classrooms these units will be turned on and merv 13 filters will be installed.
    • Main office air handler has a bad bearing.  The parts for this service have been ordered and the unit will be operational before the start of phase 3 reopening.
  • RECEC
    • Roof top heat and ventilation units are running with an increased level of outside air ventilation until the merv 13 filters are delivered.
    • Air handlers are running with an increased level of outside air ventilation until the merv 13 filters are delivered.
  • Oasis
    • The building is running with outside air ventilation provided by the roof top air handlers. Facilities maintenance is working with the property manager to provide merv 13 filters.
    • Operable windows are available for added ventilation in classroom spaces if occupants wish to utilize them.