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It has been seven years since the central air conditioning system worked at the New York City middle school where Lisa Fitzgerald O'Connor teaches.

Her classroom has a window air conditioning unit, but she fears the stagnant air will increase the chances that an infected student could spread the coronavirus.

"Window units just aren't going to cut it. We don't want to stay cool, we just want the air to flow properly," said O'Connor, a science teacher who has worked at the Patria Mirabal School in Manhattan since 2009. "We are really super stressed out about it." Schools around the country are facing similar problems.

Concerns about school infrastructure are adding momentum to plans in some districts, even in colder climates, to take classes outdoors for the sake of student and teacher health.

Nationwide, an estimated 41% of school districts need to update or replace their heating, ventilation and cooling systems in at least half their schools, according to a federal report.

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Free Press Journal

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