Montreal school board spends millions on air purifiers to curb COVID-19 potential to spread
MONTREAL -- The English Montreal School Board will spend $1.75 million buying 800 air purifiers to help keep its schools COVID-safe.
The board's commissioners voted tonight to make the purchase, school board spokesperson Michael Cohen confirmed.
The EMSB has said for weeks it was considering the move but wanted to study its needs.
It's following in the footsteps of the Lester B. Pearson School Board in the West Island, but with a much bigger spend: Lester B. Pearson spent just over half a million to buy 420 units.
In a release Wednesday night, the EMSB said it did do its planned study and identified 30 buildings, out of 55, that have the most dire need of HEPA filters.
"The EMSB Material Resource Department has completed an assessment of all 55 buildings which house schools and adult and vocational education services," the release said.
The total cost includes more than just the purchase price of the machines, it said.
"It will cost $1.75 million for the purchase, installation and maintenance of these air purifiers for the 30 buildings identified."
One parent, Marni Rubin, said she was "very excited" about the news. Rubin, whose daughter attends Royal Vale school, had been one of the parents pushing for action on air quality.
“As a group of parents we have been working towards [this] for the past few weeks," she said, "ever since my daughter told me that she saw snow on one of the desks of the kids in her class."
Many schools in Quebec have been relying on keeping the windows open to ensure air flow, even as the temperature drops below zero.
"I’m so proud of the EMSB for doing this and not waiting for the government," Rubin said.
The board commissioners are also calling on EMSB chair Joe Ortona to "communicate with the Ministry of Education to request that the EMSB be reimbursed for all expenses to be incurred," it said.
Ortona was quoted as saying that there is "no question" the "naturally ventilated" classrooms and other areas needed the filters.
Last Friday, the provincial government formally ordered air quality testing in Quebec's classrooms, starting Tuesday, Dec. 1. With the results, said the education ministry, it will do some work over the holiday break to upgrade some facilities.