Schools To Remain In Remote Learning Through Tuesday As District Reviews Air Exchange Data … Again


After suffering through the public embarassment of admitting the data supporting one of the pillars of its safety protocol was rife with faulty calculations, Belmont School District has decided it needs double the time it orginally believed before finally feeling confidence with the numbers.

So, with an abundance of caution in mind, the district announced late Friday, Oct 23, that PreK to 8th grade students will remain in remote learning for a fourth and fifth day: Monday, Oct. 26, and Tuesday, Oct. 27.

“Our expectation at this time is for hybrid in-person learning to resume at the elementary level on Wednesday, Oct. 28, and at the middle school level on Thursday, Oct. 29,” read an email from Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.

The reason for these additional days is to ensure “the accuracy of the data” coming from a third round of air exchange tests conducted in Belmont’s six public school buildings.

“This is a time consuming process, and we do not want to rush,” said Phelan.

The extent of the problem was revealed at the Tuesday, Oct. 20, Belmont School Committee meeting when Keith Prata from Bala Consulting Engineers, hired to conduct air exchange tests and advise the town on the number of fans and ventulators required in each classroom, admitted that miscalculations on the use of a multiplier led to discrepancies throughout the Excel spreadsheet underestimated the equipment needed. The errors were discovered at the beginning of the month.

In its mitigation of the faulty data set, the district has been testing and reviewing the latest numbers with Bala and the town’s Facilities Department:

  • For a third time Bala has walked through the buildings to review and assess the allocation of resources to ensure appropriate air exchange.
  • In an abundance of caution, the district has implemented a peer review process.
  • Steven Dorrance, the town’s director of facilities is reviewing the data with Bala.
  • School principals will do a building-based review of the latest data.
  • The review will be shared with the educators’ health and wellness committee
  • Meetings with be held with all parties in the review process.

“We expect the review, sharing of data, and meetings will take two days. We are still awaiting the final report and executive summary from Bala,” said Phelan. “When the School Department receives this, we will submit it to our stakeholders.”