Worcester, Massachusetts is spending millions of dollars working on HVAC systems in city buildings and public schools to improve air filtration during the coronavirus pandemic.
Masslive.com reports that the city is adding filters and equipment to HVAC systems and hopes all work will be completed by the end of December.
In particular, the upgrades are needed in school buildings before students can return to study in class. The Worcester School District begins the school year with distance learning for all students. The aim is to bring back the students with the greatest need for in-person learning after the first quarter.
Including city and school buildings, the project will cost around $ 15 million.
Worcester has 44 schools, according to the district website: 46% were built before 1940; 33% were built between 1950 and 1989; and 21% were built from 1990 to date.
The age of the buildings affects the type of HVAC system in each school. 26 buildings do not have a mechanical HVAC system, the district said, and 20 buildings have a subsystem with fresh air intake but no mechanical exhaust. Fourteen have fully mechanical HVAC systems with fresh air intake with mechanical exhaust, but with or without air conditioning.
Brian Allen, chief financial and operations officer for Worcester Public Schools, says the upgrades increase the amount of outside air inside buildings. Increasing the level of filtration in schools or buildings with mechanical HVAC systems; and installing needle-tipped bipolar ionizers either directly into the HVAC systems or through portable units.
Basement classrooms without windows or adequate ventilation will not be used when schools reopen.
The goal is to get some Worcester students to return to school buildings after the end of the first quarter in November. According to Allen, if the upgrades are not completed in all buildings, there is a chance some students may temporarily move to another school building until the work is completed.