Outside Project Manager Deems Haverhill Schools Safe if Temporary Measures Stay in Place

HVAC work taking place in Haverhill Public Schools. (Courtesy photograph.)

An outside project manager says, based on its inspection of repair work and updates on Haverhill’s 17 school buildings, students and teachers should be safe when they return to classes.

Leftfield of Boston was hired by the school administration to review ventilation work performed on the city’s school buildings to making certain they meet ASHRAE school reopening guidelines. School Superintendent Margaret Marotta told the School Committee last night that crews have been working almost non-stop to make certain they reach those guidelines.

“So we’ve done a lot of work to get there and clearly our systems needed a lot of work and they, honestly, continue to need some work and we have all that work underway. We have currently been approved as having met the guidelines either through having our HVAC systems working or through a very specific type of air scrubber and air filtration into the rooms,” she said.

The outside consultant said in a letter that while buildings have “deficiencies,” they may be occupied at “reduced capacity” and as long as “supplemental windows will be opened and air purifiers being used” until final repairs are made. Marotta said that the school department purchased 300 of those air scrubbers, enough for every classroom that needs one and that those scrubbers exceed COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Assistant Superintendent Michael Pfifflering told the Committee that work is still ongoing at a handful of schools, including the high school but that he was confident everything will be finished in time for the start of classes.

“So we assume that all of our buildings, except for the high school, will have their uninvent repairs done by the end of this week. The 12 at the high school—they’re working on getting the parts for them now, so I would assume two weeks but I’ll be cautious and say by the first or the mid of October.”

Pfifferling said they are also relying on fresh air to help keep the rooms safe and, to that end, have ordered that all windows in all school buildings be opened one hour before staff arrives in the morning until one hour after everyone leaves in the afternoon.

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