Educators and state officials are examining every aspect of how to safely reopen schools, including air quality.
Gov. Chris Sununu said the state is offering guidance for schools on how to handle their HVAC systems, and some teachers said they are still worried.
President of the New Hampshire Branch of the National Teachers Association Megan Tuttle is looking for more funding from the federal government and stronger language in the state’s guidance when it comes to addressing ventilation in schools.
Tuttle said she wants the next stimulus bill from the federal government to include money to improve the HVAC systems. She said the pandemic has shown how underfunded the education system has been.
“This is education, this is our children, this is the investment in our future and we need to be taking this a lot more seriously. This is a shall, this is not a should,” Tuttle said.
When asked for his message to teachers about their concerns, Sununu said the state is evaluating long-term care facilities’ HVAC systems to see how they factor into the spread of the virus.
“If we can show there’s connectivity there, we will,” Sununu said. “We just don’t know as of yet.”
The governor said he expects to see the results in about a week, Tuttle said that is too late and said those facilities do not compare to schools.
“Look at it in terms of education and schools and the way schools are built, not the way a long-term care facility is built, they’re completely separate things,” Tuttle said.
Sununu said there are a lot of older facilities in the state and they do have guidance for them.
“Making sure we have those stipulations in our guidance documents, which we do,” Sununu said. “That constantly say you need to check your HVAC system, you need to make upgrades, you need to clean those filters, those have all been built into guidance documents for schools, or a lot of the different business establishments that we’ve created guidance documents for.”