To the editor:
The members of the Belmont Education Association have spent the past six months balancing the needs of our students- their health and safety needs, their academic needs and their social and emotional needs- against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic
On Oct. 7, the BEA was made aware of numerous inconsistencies, errors, and omissions in the report completed by BALA, the contractor hired by the school district to assess air exchanges in school buildings.
Based on the failings of the report, the BEA adamantly disagrees with the district’s decision to enter Phase 2, and educators feel obligated to share our concerns with parents.
BALA’s direct measurements show that most classrooms do not have sufficient air exchange (ACH 5) in line with the Harvard University recommended standard that Belmont would need to meet. Assumptions that open windows and air purifiers could raise classroom air exchange to an acceptable level may, in the end, prove correct. However, BALA’s current report has numerous instances which call into question the validity of the report. For example, multiple interior rooms, which have no windows are listed as having substantial improvements once windows are taken into account.
Furthermore, there are spaces across the district where no data has been provided at all and are omitted from the report and there are other spaces that are mislabeled. The district is working to rectify this situation, and BALA returned to Belmont this week to reassess spaces to make corrections to their report.
Our community made a commitment not to send students into the buildings until spaces used by students and staff were safe. On Wednesday, the BEA requested that the district delay the start of Phase 2 until the community has a complete report. The Belmont Public Schools made the determination that schools were safe and began Phase 2 on Thursday. The short notice and concern for the social-emotional well-being of our students forced us to make a difficult decision to return to our classrooms without assurances that they are safe.
President, Belmont Education Association