School ventilation checks to wrap up by end of Wednesday, NYC officials vow

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Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza toured PS 59 to see if it was ready for reopening. He was accompanied by union leaders from SEIU. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Inspections of New York City public school ventilation systems will be finished by end of day today, city officials said during a Wednesday press conference at P.S. 59 in Brooklyn — a day after its original deadline to check airflow in buildings. 

Last week, on Aug. 25, the city announced that 100 teams of engineers and ventilation experts would inspect ventilation systems at all New York City public school buildings and would conclude their work on Sept. 1. with all findings to be posted online by Sept. 4.

Previously, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza have said that the city had previously inspected all of windows, fans and vents in schools and that the new batch of inspections was an extra precaution. The city also purchased 10,000 free-standing air filtration units from Delos  to help prevent the spread of airborne COVID-19 in classrooms. 

Two days later, city officials reported that 370 school buildings had been inspected and that engineers were set to inspect 247 more the following day. Out of the examined buildings, the Department of Education had final reports on the ventilation systems in 99 schools and out of those schools 91 were given the OK to host students on Sept. 10. 

On Thursday, Mayor de Blasio said that “only a handful” of school buildings had small issues with air ventilation. 

“Now we have a new date we are working with now, so the real question is going to be if we have a handful, and I mean a handful, can we make the adjustments we need to get to where we need to go under these conditions,” de Blasio told reporters.

Initially, city officials pledged to remedy subpar school ventilation systems by the beginning of blended classes on Sept. 10. 

Now that star of the school year has been pushed back to Sept. 21, the city has extra time to improve airflow in classrooms that might have broken vents or nailed windows. De Blasio said that if any room set to serve as a classroom this fall does not have proper airflow it will be taken offline.