EMSB to buy air purifiers as Quebecers take issue of ventilation in classrooms into their own hands

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Quebecers take issue of classroom ventilation into their own hands'
Coronavirus: Quebecers take issue of classroom ventilation into their own hands
WATCH: The issue of air quality in schools has been on the top of many people's minds amid the second wave of COVID-19. It's especially worrisome for parents. As Global’s Felicia Parrillo explains, some are taking the issue into their own hands – Dec 2, 2020

Marni Rubin is hoping to start a movement.

Her two daughters, ages six and nine, go to Royal Vale School in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grace borough, where she says the windows are often left open to keep the classrooms well-ventilated amid coronavirus concerns.

She thinks that’s not a sustainable solution, and wants the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) to look into purchasing air purifiers instead.

“We’re sending our kids to school and we just want the best for them,” she said. “We want them to feel low anxiety in this situation and being cold while learning is not helping at all.”

READ MORE: Aerosol spread of coronavirus underscores importance of avoiding ‘three Cs’: Tam

Rubin posted about the issue via social media with the hashtag #cleanairEMSB.

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It’s picked up steam over the last few days, prompting others to get involved.

“We’re trying to band together to say, ‘do the right thing and help us,'” said Rubin.

“It’s almost like a plea for help.”

EMSB unanimously approves purchase of about 800 purifiers

At a school board meeting Wednesday evening, the council of commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of about 800 high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifiers.

According to the board’s interim director general, Russell Copeman, the purifiers will be installed in all schools where the mechanical ventilation system is not functional.

According to the resolution adopted on Wednesday, $1.75 million will go towards buying, installing, and maintaining the purifiers. The cost of maintenance is estimated to be around $250,000 annually.

The chair of the board, Joe Ortona, says he will send a letter to Quebec’s education ministry requesting that the board be reimbursed all expenses.

“I think it’s entirely appropriate to write a letter and say that these are not costs that should be expected to budget,” Ortona said. “We provide educational services to students, that’s what we receive money for and that’s what we’re supposed to be spending money (on).”

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READ MORE: Plans for Montreal schools to open windows for ventilation stir concern

The Jasmin Roy Sophie Desmarais foundation is asking the public for donations to purchase air purifiers for classrooms across the province.

“Right now, we raised $40,000 in two days,” said Jasmin Roy, founder and president of the foundation. “People are willing to give some money. For us, it cost $1,000 per classroom.”

Roy said the foundation’s mission is to provide children with a safe environment at school, usually with a focus on issues like bullying. But the organization decided to get involved after seeing a recent unofficial study conducted by a group called COVID-STOP.

The study found that 75 per cent of Montreal classrooms tested showed significant ventilation problems, which could favour the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Doctors, scientists sound alarm over poor ventilation in Montreal-area schools

In a statement to Global News, the education ministry said a group of scientific and technical experts, mandated by the health and social services ministry, is currently working on the impact of ventilation and air quality on the spread of the virus.

“The group will also study the use of air purifiers in schools and the ministry will take a position following the group’s recommendations.”

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Roy says it’s taken the province too long to act on the issue.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Quebec to start testing air quality in schools next week

“As a citizen I’m doing my part, now let’s do yours,” he said. “We need to do it and do it fast, because right now they’re late.”


Click to play video: 'Parents of Royal West Academy students fuming over ventilation and clothing issues'
Parents of Royal West Academy students fuming over ventilation and clothing issues

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