The EMSB wants to be paid back for air purifiers; Legault says not so fast
MONTREAL -- Parents of kids at the English Montreal School Board say they’re relieved that the board is moving fast now on air purifiers, spending nearly $2 million to install them in 30 schools.
“In those schools there’s going to be an air purifier in each of the classrooms, the staff rooms and in the library,” said EMSB chair Joe Ortona on Thursday.
There’s one big question that will be dealt with later: the bill. The EMSB wants the province to pay it back.
“We expect to be reimbursed,” said Ortona. “These are not costs that the English Montreal School Board should be incurring.”
On Thursday, Quebec Premier François Legault said he’s not convinced. He said the province has already given schools a lot of money in the pandemic, and he’s not sure air purifiers are necessary.
“Right now, what public health is telling me is that there’s no reason to believe that there is substantial transmission of the virus because we don’t have purificateurs,” he said.
Opposition parties sided with the EMSB, with Liberal leader Dominique Anglade saying that province has been slow to act.
“From the very beginning we said that the government should be involved in this issue of ventilation for all of our schools, and unfortunately they haven’t reacted, they haven’t done anything,” she said.
The PQ leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, agreed the boards have been forced into action.
“School boards taking the issue on their shoulders, saying ‘Well, if the government is not [going] to do anything with that let’s do something and let’s hope that at some point we’ll get a reimbursement,’ it doesn’t make sense and it’s not normal,” he said.
The EMSB says all the purifiers will be installed by the end of February, and one school principal—Sonia Marotta of Honoré Mercier Elementary School—said the plan until then is to continue to “open up our windows and to let air circulate.”
School staff have been airing the building out like this three times a day, she said.