PEI

Lack of information on UPEI air quality 'a big concern'

The UPEI Faculty Association wants to know more about a report on air quality inside buildings on campus, and says proper ventilation should be in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

UPEI hired consultants to do a report on ventilation

UPEI's administration says a consultant's report looking at air quality and ventilation issues should be ready by mid-November. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

The UPEI Faculty Association is criticizing how long it's taken the University of P.E.I. to release a consultant's study looking at air quality and ventilation on campus. 

In an emailed statement to CBC News, UPEI said consultants were hired to conduct classroom evaluations and site work had been completed, and they were now in the process of preparing a comprehensive report. 

The statement said the report will be made public once the school receives it. 

"As soon as the report is provided to UPEI, the Vice-President Administration and Finance will communicate the findings to the University community, and immediately move to address any issues identified in the report," the statement said. 

Michael Arfken, president of the UPEI Faculty Association, said more needs to be known on the methodology of that study, and what the recommendations are. 

Michael Arfken says there's a lot of places on campus that are not covered by mechanical ventilation. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"The lack of transparency and the lack of information is a big concern. One of the things we specifically asked for is information about the air changes per hour … we have not gotten any data on that. We have no information. The other thing is that there's been a focus on mechanical ventilation, which is really important and we need more information," he said. 

"We don't know what sort of scope they were given. We don't know what sort of methodology. We don't know what sort of instructions they were given, but we do know they were instructed to look at the air quality, so we'd like to know what they found." 

'Major concern'

Arfken said association members are concerned about the air quality inside buildings on campus, and that proper ventilation should be in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

He said members expressed concern about air quality in surveys, and that it was "one of the major concerns they had."

Arfken said there are cases where students are packed into classrooms, so it's important to focus on measures that can keep the campus safe and healthy.

"Our concerns really revolve around the transmission of the virus and ensuring that there's adequate ventilation in our buildings," he said.

"We really need to be doing everything we can to address it … our role as a union is to ensure the health and safety of our members."

We really need to be doing everything we can to address it.— Michael Arfken

He said as the winter months approach, a robust ventilation strategy at the university is "absolutely vital." 

UPEI said it expects to receive the report in mid-November. 

Arken hopes it will be released widely when the time comes. 

"I think it needs to be released to the entire campus community with a full understanding of what they were looking for. What methodology they implemented, what they found and what the recommendations are," he said. 

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