Paterson teachers union says school conditions are not safe for June 1 return
The Paterson Education Association says that the city’s schools are not ready for the June 1 reopening date. There is now growing contention between the school board and the staff’s union.
Paterson Education Association officials say that there are necessary repairs that the district has to make to the school buildings before students can return.
Public School No. 25 is just one of the schools that the union says needs repairs before students and staff return. PEA officials say that they were horrified by some of the things they saw during a walkthrough of the schools. They say that they feel neither staff or students should be allowed to return until it is safe.
“We understand that schools have to be reopened. We understand that the best place for a student is to be in school, that's not what this argument is about right now,” says Paterson Education Association President John McEntee.
Videos were taken inside the schools to evaluate the air ventilation system. Union officials say that the videos show less-than-favorable conditions in the building unrelated to the original HVAC concerns
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“They found what we believe to be fraudulent records that were not only inscribed on the air filters but were also not corresponding with the IAQ logs, which are indoor air quality logs,” McEntee says.
The Paterson School Board disagrees with the assessment, saying in a statement that it has poured almost $20 million in federal money into the schools to install several layers of protections, including ionic air purifiers, air scrubbers for rooms with no windows and air blasters for larger areas. The Workplace Environment Council was also present for the walkthrough.
“When they were installing these HVAC systems, WEC wrote in their report that they issued to us, they weren't even installed correctly,” McEntee says.
The PEA is also calling for chances within the Paterson Public Schools moving forward.
Paterson Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer says that the PEA used the video from the walkthrough to heighten anxiety among its members and parents.
Staff members are currently scheduled to return to school June 1. Students are expected to return June 8.