Warwick will purchase hundreds of air purifiers to address ventilation concerns in schools

School Updates

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) ─ After walkthrough teams reported ventilation concerns in all 20 of the school district’s buildings, Warwick is in the process of developing a plan to address those deficiencies.

In an email to parents, the school district said walkthroughs were conducted last Friday. The email also outlined the district’s plan to purchase approximately 600 air purifiers using CARES Act funding.

Warwick has already opted to begin the school year virtually, and the district estimates that the project will take roughly two to three months to complete.

“While we believe this remedy can achieve the desired result, a comprehensive solution is the installation of a new HVAC system in each school,” the email explains.

The first question about HVAC systems on the state’s COVID-19 Facilities and Physical Plant Checklist asks, “Does the school have a central HVAC system that is operating to provide as much clean outdoor air or air filtered with MERV-13 or higher as possible?”

The state’s reports indicated “no” for almost all 14 elementary schools in Warwick. Sherman and Hoxsie Elementary reports from state walkthroughs indicated changes were “in progress.”

Warwick Veterans Memorial Middle School was the only one out of six secondary school buildings state officials circled “yes” for the initial HVAC question, though the report noted the school needed more fans and HEPA filters.

The district said residents will have the opportunity to vote on a bond question regarding the allocation of $26 million to fund the purchase and installation of new HVAC systems for Warwick elementary schools.

The district’s plan will be discussed in greater detail by the Warwick School Committee next Tuesday.

Gov. Gina Raimondo, who has already given all but two school districts the green light to fully reopen in person, has repeatedly expressed her disappointment with Warwick’s decision.

In an email to 12 News Friday morning, Warwick Superintendent Philip Thornton noted the school district’s letter to parents sums up where the district is currently, and more details about the plan will come on Tuesday.

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