By JUSTIN KALBIN
Special at Montclair Local
I have sent the following letter (edited for length) to Montclair Schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds and individual members of the Education Council with no response. This is still the case with the four or five letters I sent during the pandemic. No responsibility, no knowledge of the issues, no skills to handle any of these issues for our 6,700 children. And zero air quality experts advising the district on policy and implementation. Why do we pay them to play these roles?
I have sent you several recommendations to you and the board over the past year, many of which were adopted after a wave of pressure forced these changes. I told you in our phone call on January 6 not to install ionizers as they are inefficient and dangerous and eventually should be removed. I told you to wait until mid-April to open the schools when the windows could be fully open due to spring temperatures. I told you to install energy recovery ventilation units in each classroom because it is the only way to guarantee ventilation in our buildings. These suggestions are based on knowledge of building systems, our individual school building and asbestos content, and viral transmission.
You I said recently you woke up at night worrying about schools The current window situation is so ridiculous that you should avoid sleeping and open the windows. Would you make two 4 inch windows if there was a smell of cleaning product or paint in a classroom? You would open them completely, and COVID-19 is deadly while volatile organic compounds are not.
- Open every window in every room as wide as possible. Windows are open to less than 6 inches, if at all. This is an air change per hour (ACH) rate of less than 1. This offers little or no benefit in reducing viral spread in the air. There are no regulations limiting how far they can be opened in a classroom. If you are so concerned about a student falling, open the top sash fully or install a security bar in at least one window and open it fully. Place a box fan or similar in front of this window, blowing. This will draw air in through other windows.
- Windows should be open in all rooms even if they have mechanical ventilation. There is a lack of understanding of ventilation, but a blowing fan doesn’t mean there is outside air coming in. Unless a ventilation and balancing contractor has measured make-up air, I’m assuming your mechanical ventilation does not bring in any fresh air, or an ACH of 0 Window air conditioners do not bring in any fresh air. fresh air.
- Use at least three High Efficiency Particulate Air Purifiers (HEPA) per class, with a clean air flow rate of 300. A purifier does next to nothing to reduce virus transmission through the air. The $ 635,000 carelessly spent on ionizers could have been used to purchase 2,540 Honeywell HPA300 HEPA purifiers, proven to stop viral aerosols like SARS-VOC-2. However, you have allocated funds to purchase completely untested and possibly dangerous ionizers. Use the same method to purchase these purifiers. You will use them for years and no one will complain, now or in 10 or 20 years.
- Implement and enforce a uniform plan across the district. This first week of school showed a complete failure in the implementation and enforcement of policies. We stayed in the neighborhood based on the published window policy – it was the only sanitation event that mattered. The first two days of school showed a violation of this policy.
- The weather will not be better than today. Make a plan for the cold weather, and if you can’t, I’d be happy to write a plan for the district.
Justin Klabin is a Montclair parent and a Certified Indoor Air Quality Manager. He is a consultant on ecological construction and health issues through his company, Klabin Eco Development.
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