Boca News Now | September 15, 2020
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — There is growing concern about the air quality in Palm Beach County elementary, middle and high schools just days before the Palm Beach County School District reopens for in-person education. A school district spokesperson told BocaNewsNow.com that there is no plan to test air quality in schools before children return.
Air flow, while important any day, is exceptionally important to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Sources tell BocaNewsNow.com that several Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach schools are already suffering from air conditioning issues before students even return to the classroom. The school district is promoting its alleged use of “MERV 14” air filters, but some familiar with the situation say that’s more marketing than medical.
“MERV 14 means absolutely nothing if an air conditioner isn’t working,” said a staff member at an area elementary school wishing to remain anonymous due to the ongoing controversy. “The air conditioner in my building routinely dies. If the air doesn’t flow, the air isn’t filtered.”
A teacher from a South Palm Beach County high school expressed similar concern.
“Our building is old. The air conditioner is faulty. The air smells old and damp. This is not where kids should be in a pandemic.”
MERV stands for “minimum efficiency rating value.” The higher than number, the better the filtration. MERV 14 is acceptable for hospital surgical use.
“I’m in a portable,” said another teacher. “I have not been shown anything that leads me to believe the air conditioners being used in portables have been retrofitted, upgraded or even cleaned. The air is unsafe.”
Even Principals say the situation is bad. The Palm Beach County School Administrators Association — the organization of principals countywide — Monday announced that it believes schools are not ready to reopen.
”There is a complete absence of clear cut communications,” wrote Chairwoman Annmarie Dilbert. “District Bulletins and reopening plans are serial, redundant and have little operational detail — hence they go nowhere. Decisions are often in conflict because they do not come from a single source. Often, principals are patronized with gratuitous statements of appreciation.”