Covid-19 Accountability Working Group Blog

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City Council Hears Plenty of Skepticism On NYC School Reopening Plan

https://gothamist.com/news/city-council-hears-plenty-skepticism-nyc-school-reopening-plan

New York City should expect to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases once public schools reopen for in-person classes later this month, an infectious disease expert and advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio testified at a City Council hearing on Thursday.

Dr. Irwin Redlener was among the 140 speakers scheduled to testify at the day-long education committee hearing on the city’s school reopening plan. In the absence of testimony from DOE officials, councilmembers heard from skeptics of de Blasio’s school reopening plan, along with the school labor union leaders who convinced the mayor to delay reopening to allow more time to prepare.

Redlener warned councilmembers that students enrolled in schools for in-person learning have a greater chance of contracting the disease when inside a classroom.

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How safe is the air inside your NYC classroom? (Chalkbeat) By Amy Zimmer, Christina Veiga, and Gabrielle LaMarr LeMee Aug 25, 2020

Posted on  by newyorkeljp

https://ny.chalkbeat.org/2020/8/25/21396573/how-safe-is-the-air-inside-nyc-classroom students in

Good ventilation could lower the risk of coronavirus. Find out where your school stands.

With just two weeks to go before school buildings are scheduled to reopen, New York City is dispatching teams of engineers to ensure that airflow and filtration in 56,000 classrooms are up to the task of curbing the coronavirus.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the effort on Tuesday, as teachers and principals continue to raise the alarm about whether the air will be safe, given mounting evidence of the virus’s more potent spread indoors. Of the 10 largest school districts in the country, New York City is the only one planning to reopen classrooms — even as calls mount for a delay and the teachers union threatens to strike.

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‘An Open Window’s Not Gonna Cut It’: Ventilation Expert Warns Teachers About Classroom COVID Risks

https://gothamist.com/news/ventilation-covid-school-air-flow-expert-teachers-warning

A ventilation expert enlisted by a group of worried NYC school teachers believes the DOE is not doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in school buildings when students return on September 21st.

Monona Rossol, an industrial hygienist and chemist who assesses workplace safety, held a virtual training session on Tuesday with roughly 100 members of the MORE-UFT caucus, a group that’s been largely opposed the reopening of schools, arguing they’re simply not safe to reopen during the pandemic.

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More details and explanations from Monona Rossol:

(click here) ACTS FACTS

VENTILATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Editorial – Monona Rossol

All over the country, school reopening plans are in the news. Administrators often are defending school’s facilities and ventilation, and teachers are not convinced it is safe to go back. After reading a few of the engineers’ ventilation reports here in New York City, it is clear what is wrong. The schools defend by showing they comply with the state-mandated ventilation standards. They don’t see that these standards are ineffective against COVID-19. This article will explain the terms and their meanings and why the standards aren’t enough to safeguard students, teachers and staff – and those who come into contact with them..

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ASHRAE Standards. These are not stringent enough to protect against COVID-19.

https://www.ashrae.org/about/news/2020/ashrae-offers-covid-19-building-readiness-reopening-guidance

Media Contact:
Sherri Simmons
404-446-1660
ssimmons@duffey.com

ATLANTA (May 7, 2020) – The ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has developed guidance on mitigating potential health risks during reopening of buildings closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have reached a time where planning for a safe return to normal activities has become a priority,” said 2019-20 ASHRAE President Darryl K. Boyce, P.Eng. “Safe operation of HVAC and building water management systems are critical components of building readiness and reopening, and ASHRAE’s resources provide a framework for developing plans in a variety of building types.”

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Reducing the Risk of COVID-19 Using Engineering Controls

https://aiha-assets.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/AIHA/resources/Guidance-Documents/Reducing-the-Risk-of-COVID-19-using-Engineering-Controls-Guidance-Document.pdf

Early case reports and epidemiological studies of groups where SARS-CoV-2 has led to outbreaks of COVID-19 indicates that the primary means of disease transmission is the indoor spread of exhaled droplet aerosols.

Armed with this knowledge, industrial hygiene professionals may limit SARS-CoV-2 transmission using the hierarchy of controls. Engineering controls that can keep infectious aerosols at very low levels indoors offer
the greatest promise to protect non-healthcare workers and other vulnerable populations as we reopen our businesses and workplaces.


Relying upon individuals to maintain social distancing, perform perpetual hand washing, and, when available, wear the lowest form of personal protective equipment (PPE) on the market can only achieve so much in preventing the spread of COVID-19. And because infected people transmitting the disease can be asymptomatic or presymptomatic, it is impractical to “eliminate” all sources of infection. With this in mind, the industrial hygiene profession has long recognized that engineered solutions to reduce exposure to hazardous agents offer much greater protection than PPE or administrative controls in most workplace settings. (NIOSH) (See Figure 1)


Many employers and the public incorrectly assume that wearing face coverings or a respirator is the only way to reduce their risk of exposure. Invariably this is not the case—the reality is that wearing a respirator properly every day, all day, is uncomfortable and rarely done properly. Engineering controls have historically proven to be more reliable because they are less prone to human error.

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Ventilation for Industrial Settings during the COVID-19 Pandemic

https://www.acgih.org/docs/default-source/vent-committee/iv_position-test.pdf?sfvrsn=4b10ba0d_2

This White Paper, developed by the Industrial Ventilation Committee of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®), originates from concern about the proper use of ventilation controls in industrial workplaces where SARS-CoV-2 (the Coronavirus responsible for COVID-19) is potentially present. This volunteer committee, with expertise in industrial ventilation, offers guidance on the topic of industrial entilation to industrial/commercial facilities that are planning operational controls to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for employees returning to work around the world. These recommended practices are intended as guidance for Occupational and Environmental Healthand Safety professionals and others including plant managers as they seek to mitigate
exposures for their workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Included within this paper are COVID-19 exposure control strategies that consider all of the traditional industrial hygiene Hierarchy of Controls. It will provide some practical suggestions about the use of ventilation principles and concepts that can help reduce worker exposure to droplets and aerosols that may contain Coronavirus-19. It will also communicate some simple guidelines and principles that can be used to select and design ventilation controls to limit the spread of Coronavirus disease. This White Paper will NOT opine on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems and other ventilation systems that are used in office situations, as they have been addressed by ASHRAE in recent documents (ASHRAE, 2020).

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The Astounding Physics of N95 Masks