Fine-tuning of HVAC system won’t hold up Southampton school reopening

  • Southampton William E. Norris School, 2019

Staff Writer
Published: 9/10/2020 7:58:14 PM
Modified: 9/10/2020 7:58:02 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — A final tuning of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the William E. Norris School has been delayed, but the chair of the William E. Norris School Committee says he doesn’t think that will affect the start of school.

Chairman Jon Lumbra said the system has been inspected and received a “clean bill of health.”

However, the school is still set to have its machines balanced, which Lumbra referred to as a fine tuning. 

This was supposed to have taken place from Tuesday to Thursday, but an issue with a subcontractor has meant that the work started Thursday instead. Lumbra said the subcontractor is striving to complete the work Friday.

The balancing is a preventive measure, Lumbra said, taken out of an “overabundance of care.” And while he said the plan is for it to be completed by the start of school on Wednesday, he also said it is the School Committee’s view that this work is not a reopening requirement.

The School Committee is also engaging in collective bargaining with the Southampton Teachers Association over working conditions, although Lumbra declined to reveal the contents of those talks.

A statement released to The Gazette by the executive board of the teachers union reads in part, “We are not asking for anything more than guaranteed assurances that our students and our staff will be safe in our workplace environment.”

The statement notes criticism the the union has received on social media, and says that “in this time of unprecedented concern about a virus transmitted primarily through aerosolized respiratory droplets, it is absurd to criticize our need for assurance that the school’s HVAC system is providing the safest air quality possible in which our students will learn and our staff will work.”

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