Montreal

EMSB buying 800 air purifiers for classrooms and common areas

The English Montreal School Board council of commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday evening to purchase 800 air purifiers for classrooms that are not properly ventilated. 

Decision follows similar action from Lester B. Pearson School Board

Many teachers have had to keep the windows open to ventilate their classrooms, even as temperatures plunge. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The English Montreal School Board council of commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday evening to purchase 800 air purifiers for classrooms that are not properly ventilated. 

The estimated cost for the high-efficiency particulate air purifiers is $1.75 million, for which the board says it will be seeking full reimbursement from the provincial government. 

The EMSB's decision follows that of the Lester B. Pearson School Board, which is is spending half a million dollars on new, portable machines for schools without mechanical ventilation.

That board will also be upgrading the filters inside schools that are already equipped with mechanical ventilation.

The EMSB has not yet provided a timeline for when the purifiers could be inside classrooms. 

The machines will go to 30 buildings, which were identified during an assessment of 55 EMSB buildings. 

The move comes as parents were pressuring the board to take action to improve air quality and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Marni Rubin, whose two daughters attend Royal Vale Elementary School in NDG, was one of them. She watched as the board voted to buy the purifiers and described it as a relief. 

"It's exactly what we wanted to hear from them and we're so pleased," Rubin said, noting a number of concerned parents from her daughters' school also watched the meeting. 

She said they were spurred into calling for action after snow fell into some of their children's classrooms because teachers have had to keep the windows open for ventilation.

"The only thing is we want to know how fast this is going to happen," she added. "We just want transparency on the next step."

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