Filters installed in RCSD schools following teacher union claims of poor ventilation systems

Local News

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) —  Ahead of its phase three reopening, the Rochester City School District has provided an update on its ventilation systems. The quality of the systems has been a source of controversy, after the teacher’s union claimed last week that the filters used in district schools were not up to par. 

The superintendent wrote in a letter Saturday that all school buildings will have MERV-13 filters by the end of the month, filters which help to reduce the spread of bacteria.

The quality of ventilation systems in Rochester School district facilities are the topic of a disagreement between the Rochester Teachers Association and the district superintendent.

The Rochester Teachers’ Association hired an independent firm to report on ventilation systems within the district, and President Adam Urbanski broke down the report last week when Phase 2 of reopening started.

“We’re dealing here with an airborne virus and if the ventilation isn’t up to standard then everyone is exposed to it,” said Urbanski.

MERV-13 filters are highly effective in eliminating contaminants and are ideal in situations where air quality control is important. The report claims that 9 of the 19 schools in Phase 2 did not have MERV-13 filters.

“So only filter out about 20% of the virus and not all of it,” said Urbanski.

The report came out two weeks ago. At the time District officals said:

“As for ventilation systems, we secured contracts with two companies for evaluation of ventilation.  When RTA leadership came to us with the idea of using a consultant of their choice, we jumped at the opportunity for collaboration.  Merv-13 filters have been delivered to all of the buildings in Phase 1 and 2 of our reopening plan, and all items with respect to ventilation in those buildings have been or will be addressed. Additionally, the decision to put Merv 13 filters in these buildings was done as an extra level of care and safety for our students and staff. We are following recommendations from the New York State Department of Health and the State Education Department.  None of those recommendations specifically mention the use of MERV filters.

RCSD Department of Communications

Saturday, the school district released their own report that shows all district schools but two have been fitted with MERV-13 filters. The superintendent is waiting for final shipments saying in a letter;

“All of our school buildings, with the exception of Leadership Academy for Young Men and Rochester International Academy, are equipped with MERV13 filters…Those schools will have the filters installed before their opening day on Thursday.”

Dr. Lesli Myers-Small, Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Myers-Small says she shared this information with union leadership Friday.

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