By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
The city’s teacher union, the United Federation of Teachers, is teaming up with real estate developer Tishman Speyer to improve ventilation in New York City public schools.
In the past, Tishman Speyer has worked with the union, the city’s Department of Education and the School Construction Authority to improve ventilation and to source over 100,000 MERV-13 filters in public schools which can help trap smaller particles and even virus in the air more easily than other filters, according to a statement from UFT.
The developer has previously worked in consultation with the city to help fix ventilation systems at Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Complex in Manhattan and the Herbert Lehman High School in the Bronx.
According to the release, Speyer has found a domestic supplier that could provide the city with over 100,000 MERV-13 filters in schools. Clean and fresh air in classrooms is more important than ever amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic given that research suggesting the virus can remain airborne longer than previously thought.
As the city prepared to reopen schools earlier this fall, the status of air filtration systems in public schools came under harsh scrutiny. Out of the city’s roughly 1,600 schools, many facilities do not have working HVAC systems or windows that properly open allowing for the circulation of fresh air.
Worries over air filters have popped up again as the weather has turned colder forcing teachers and students to make a choice between staying warm and potentially increasing possible spread by closing windows or leaving windows open and shivering throughout class time.