Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education Study Session meeting - October 21

AAPS Board of Education Study Session – October 21

On October 21 the AAPS Board of Education led a study session to discuss building changes in preparation for return to in person school.


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Meeting Summary

Today’s meeting focused on building changes and adaptations for a COVID informed return to in person learning. The district is spending considerable time and money preparing buildings. While they continue to work, they are nearing completion on elementary buildings and are confident that remaining work will not hold them back when the metrics say it is safe to return.

They are working on many strategies from signage, layouts, and building infrastructure improvements.

With HVAC they are are looking at improving filters, increasing air turnover rates by using more outside air. There is a tradeoff with increased ventilation requiring increased energy usage.

Water quality work is on going at all buildings. Flushing to prevent e coli and legionella growth and testing for these contaminants and the bi-annual replacement of all water filters. They are also removing water fountain bubblers and installing touchless systems in restrooms and bottle fillers.

They are evaluating each classroom to maximize student/teacher distance. Tables that used to seat 2-3 students may now seat 1 student. They are also designating one way hallways, doors, and stairways where possible and keep right to walk zones in other areas.


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Meeting Notes

Attendees

Board Attendees: Lazarus, Kelly, Gaynor, Nelson, Baskett, Kelly, Johnson

Non-Voting Member & AAPS Guests: Swift, Lauzzana, Rice

Public Commentary

There were 6 signups for Public Commentary. At last week’s board meeting, I found it best to just provide a link to full public commentary once it is added to Board Docs. The comments read aloud at the meeting are typically truncated due to time and read very quickly making it hard to take notes. Sharing the link to the full to the full comments provides a more accurate capture of the public commentary.

Clarifications

Swift: We appreciate everyone who has submitted public commentary and appreciate the feedback.

I do want to touch on rationale for our July decision to begin virtually was as a result of dramatic upward tick after Memorial Day which showed in mid-June and still continues today. We have noted our identity as a university town. That initial decision was about he summer surge.

With regard to preparation of building, I am proud of the work that has been done since mid-March. Tonight’s presentations should clarify what has been done and what is in progress. Signage is in buildings and principals will be getting it properly placed. Tonight’s rpesentation will address what work has been done and what work is still remaining.

We continue to hear response of needs of all the children’s and families in our community.

Johnson: Thank you for feedback. We appreciate the feedback and take into account the safety and needs of everyone in our community.


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Ensuring COVID-Informed School Buildings

Swift: As you recall, we had to close schools on March 13 in the middle of the day. That day we began the work to prepare our school buildings. That weekend we were contacted by the governor’s office to prepare one building as an emergency daycare center. That was not used, they used other buildings instead.

We began deep cleaning via CDC buildings at that time and have continued COVID preparations. Our priority is to keep students and staff as safe as we can. While community spread is still active we can’t guarantee it won’t be in an environment. Today is about what steps we can take.

We have spent several years improving schools. The sinking fund renewed four years ago provided a lot of resources to repair and update and remodel schools. around 13 schools have had in depth repair and infrastructure upgrades and all have had smaller work done.

Last fall, the community supported our 21st century vision in the 2019 bond. Environmental responsibility and sustainability,

By the end of this calendar year we expect a Draft of Phase 1 of the bond fund for renewal of our school buildings. We had no idea at the time that the COVID pandemic would further inform our buidlings.

Buildings & Front office do have plexiglass installed. Our preparation of school facilities is about more than plexiglass barrier although those are important.

  • Healthy water – flushing systems weekly and regularly to keep ti moving, filtering water so it is safe, and testing water.
  • Indoor Quality- Indoor air qulaity is especiaqlly important in indoor environments. Aerosol transmission and how air conditioning and heating systems
  • Touchless Systems – Specifically in restrooms. It will help with COVID, but also with influenza, measles, etc.

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In some areas the work is complete. In other areas it is an ongoing project but is underway. We know the better job we do with this, our staff, students, parents, teams, community will have a higher level of confidence that they are returning to the safest environment they can create. We are leveraging sinking fund and 2019 bond to ensure the best and safest indoor environment we can achieve.

Mr Lauzzana started the presentation on building preparations. Hopefully the presentation will be made available after the meeting.

Types of COVID Transmission

There are three types of trasnmission:

  • Fomites – Touch from transmission of bodily fluid – Hand swashing and hand sanitization and cleaning shared surfaces
  • Droplets – Larger particles (about 100 microns) of mucus from sneezing, speaking, breathing, coughing
  • Aerosols – Smaller particles (less than 5 microns) that linger in the air.

FYI Human eye can see about 40 microns.

Primary Risk Reduction Strategies

This is the CDC Risk Reduction Hierarchy of Controls.


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High Risk: No Masks, Crowded Place, Indoor is hightest Risk

Lowest Risk: Masks Worn, 6′ of Space, Outdoor Space

The goal is to get as safe as we can. In Juune Harvard Healthy Buildings group published a giude.

  • Healthy Classrooms
  • Healthy Buildings
  • Healthy Activities
  • Healthy Schedules
  • Healthy Policies

Healhty Classrooms include masks, frequesnt ahnd washing, phsyical distance, and maximiz9ng group distancing.

Healthy buildings, increase outdoor air ventilation, filter indoor air, portable air cleaners, verify ventilation and filtration, use advanced air quality techniques, plexiglass as physical barrier, no contact instructure, focus on bathrooms.

Mr Rice took over to discuss managing vacant buildings.

HVAC Systems

Increased filter changes, running 2 hours twice a week to keep in good working area. Inscreaing MERV rating where possible. We’re between 8-13 MERV. But really only Skyline can handle the MERV 13. They are deep cleaning and commissioning of each HVAC system.


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Water Quality

As a district back in March identified that system needed to be flushed regularly to prevent growth of legionella bacteria which can cause Legionnaires. They’ve also completed bi-annual replacement of the 1200 filters in the district. They are testing all school buildings for e coli and legionella.

Cleaning & Sanitizing

Cleaning every 4 hours of frequent touch surface, class doors propped open to minize touch seruface. Hand santitizer in all spaces nad upon arrival.

Plumbing Systems

Remove all bubblers and capping on hydration stations and installing bottle fillers to replace bubblers where possible. Moved from hallways to bathrooms to make touchless

Health & Wellness Signage

Stantec consulting architects & planners to develop signs. There are some supply chain constraints, especially for floor markers. They do expect to get them next week.

  • In Only & Exit Only door locations
  • Social Distance Reminders
  • Self-Screening Reminders
  • One Way hall & staircase signage
  • Maximum Occupancy for elevators, restrooms, media center, offices, etc
  • Handwashing Reminders

The signage and reminder are developed for elementary and K-8. At high school level will make some modifications away from cartoon characters.


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They are working on both physical distancing – separating within a group – and group distancing to keep classrooms separate. That way only one group would need quarantine.

Furniture will be arranged in classroom to maximize distance. Sample classroom layout of a square was shown. But in the district there are many shaped classrooms – square, long & skinny, trapezoid, triangle, etc. The goal is to have a zone for the teacher and a zone for each student with little transfer into other student or teacher zones.

Restroom Ventilation

You try to keep negative pressure in bathrooms. Keep doors closed, bathroom door closed, vent separately with exhaust fans (that vent outdoors), remove forced air hand dryers.


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HVAC System Evaluation

AAPS is working with Fishbeck as consulting engineers. They are working to:

  • Maximize Fresh Outside Air
  • Maximize Air Filtration
  • Develop Algorithms to adjust when unoccupied to conserve energy

They are looking at 40-100% of outdoor air based on heating demand. They are also adjusting filter, but there is a maximum filter density to pull air through based on the motor.

MERV 8-9-10 will be about 1-2: thick. A MERV 13 is 4″, a HEPA could be 12″ thick. Limitations are fan strength to pull air through and also physical space limitations to installing filters.

MERV 8 filters more than 70% of a 3-10 micron particles (aerosol size we are concerned with). A MERV 11 will filter 85% of particles. MERV13 filters 90% MERV13 is the standard with the 2019 bond. Currenlty only Skyline has this capability.

A Flu virus study – we don’t have this type of study yet with COVID:

There is limited improvement after MERV-11.


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Other technologies for clearing air are being looked at. They are especially looking at Portable Air Cleaners.

  • Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide – For very specialized high needs. Room must be empty with all openings sealed off. Not really possible
  • Ultra Violet Light Whole Room Disinfection – Empty Room can irritate skin and damage eyes. Again, for highly sensitive medical environments.
  • Ozone Disinfection – Charged particle attracts other particles to increase catching in filter. You need a lot of ozone and evidence shows generally ineffective other than at high dosages where it would be unhealthy
  • Gas Phaese Air Cleaners (Carbon Filters) – Generally not very effective at removing viruses. They work for odor reduction
  • UltraViolet Light in HVAC – Can be used in ICU, surgical suites. You need a high dose of UV light because of moving air, again working with UV which can be dangerous
  • Bipolar Ionization/Needlepoint Ionization – Charged ions – Scientific studies on viability don’t currently exist. There are only manufacturer studies. Can emit ozone which can be dangerous.
  • Portable Air Cleaners – Scale wise is like a dehumidifier in a basement. Developed for people with allergies for residential use. They can be effective to provide additional cleaning.

Most effective is to ventilate with outdoor air.

  • Open system dampers or open windows if no HVAC system.
  • Increase Filter Efficiency – to MERV 13 if possible,
  • Portable Air Cleaners – a good supplement especially with lower filters

The goal is 5 total air changes per hour (ACH). Bare minimum is 3-4 per hour Air changes per hour is how often the air replaced by either outside air or recirculated filtered air. Code minimum is 2.8-3.5. Recommended to be at 5+ for COVID precautions. It is a tradeoff for heating efficiency and fresh air.

AAPS operating in Enhanced Indoor Air Quality Mode are generally able to get to 5-11 ACH. Portable Air Cleaners can provide additional 1-4 ACH and can help rooms that can’t get to that level.


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Next Steps

Facilities is working on the following next steps

  • Continue flushing water systems
  • Continue installing touchless water fixtures
  • Continue commissioning HVAC
  • Continue HVAC filter replacements & upgrades
  • Continue to work with teachers, staff & administrators on changes

Recommendation: Purchase Portable air cleaners to further enhance indoor air quality.

Swift: The portable air cleaners could be about $3million. Can be included in bond. They are still investigating models and Ms. Minnick is looking at sourcing them. Our recommendation does include every location in the district, but at least in older buildings. There will be more discussion before that decision is made.

Questions

Johnson: Just a reminder that this is a study session. We won’t be making decisions.

Nelson: Can you give more detail on status of work by building or grade levels? We’ve said in phased movement back we are moving form younger students and most vulnerable to older students.

Lauzzana: Our roadmap is with the youngest populations and we’re moving from there up through to middle school and eventually high school. Some are complete across the district like water filter replacement. Others we’re midway working through from youngest to oldest. Elementary schools are closest to being ready. The floor dots have a bit of a delay and the other area is 8-12 months is touchless conversion of restrooms & water fixtures. There are 1200 filters, but we don’t filter the restroom sinks, so there are thousands of touchless fixtures to install. And we’re not the only ones doing this so materials are in high demand.


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Nelson: Follow Up : Will we be working on classrooms that specialize in high needs students in upper level buildings? Can we do modifications of just those fw rooms first? Or is it not sensible technically or economically not possible

Lauzzana: Yes, that is a relatively small number of classrooms – around 27 in the district and it would not take long to prioritize those if the decision was to bring special education back. There is an efficiently to deploy crews to certain buildings, but we could lose that if the decision is made to get those ready quickly.

Swift: They mapped out one building with facilities and principals from across the district as to what needs to occur in every elementary building. We are now applying that prototype to every building. When we say we are ready to reopen, A commenter said furntirue is still stacked. That would be the day or two before returning. With the new furniture students may be 1 to a table vs 2 as they were in the past. And own’t require moving much furniture. We’re hoping to keep classrom similar but less densely populated.

Gaynor: How does what we are diong compare to what other districts that are in hybrid are doing? When are they safe to eopn.

Swift: Whil there is community spread, there i no way to be 100% safe. What we’er talking about is how to make mitigate results.

I do meet twice a week with are superintendents. I know projects are in progress, but I don’t have the depth of knowledge to give a comparison. I do believe our effort is top notch.

Gaynor: How much of this work factors into our decision to return? I know we’re looking at metrics, but how does this factor in? Are we not ready to return because we have facilities work to do

Swift: We are ready to return when metrics suggest it is ready. I know Mx Bacolor would say primary impacts in reducing spread is wearing a mask at all times and maintaining social distance. Mitigation techniques about human behavior – not clustering together, one way hallway, app for student pickup so they aren’t clustered on curb, and taking out as the parent arrives

Lazarus: I appreciate all the information. I heard that we are filtering the water and testing for e coli and legionella but you didn’t say anything about lead. Are we doing that as well, or is that a separate test?


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Lauzzana – It is a different test. They have different collection. E coli has a 24 hour test. The legionella test we are ordering.You have to grow a culture and it is 14 day turn around. Lead is a different test i between. We are confident in the water filter . We were working on lead testing protocols this spring before the COVID closures distracting our attention.

Lazarus: The furntiure in the room piled up. I know we have spaces at a premium, Is the plan to keep furntireu in the room piled up, when we could use that for added social distancing.

Swift: Our intention is to remove furniture that is not used form the room. We aren’t intending to do a major move in the district. We don’t have storage space for that. What most students & teachers will find is that a table that sat 2-3 will now seat 1.

Lazarus: As related to air qulity and portqable air filters: How many classrooms do we aactually have?

Swift: Yes, and also offices.

Lauzzana – We have just under 1000 classrooms. It varies as a classroom may switch to a teacher lounge and back based on building enrollment. Plus offices. Larger offices would probably require more than 1. Plus media centers, cafeterias, counseling offices. You wouldn’t need the same air cleaner in a small counseling office, classroom, and cafeteria. We don’t have an exact count yet, but our current guess is around 2000.

Lazarus: Do we need to test to see how often it’s being changed? And see if ventilation is working properly

Lazuzana – The typical test is measuring CO2 levels. High CO2 levels is a sign of poor ventilation. We can more accurately calculate with our engineering partners. They can calculate how much air change a particular space can provide. It takes about a day with the right information to calculate for a building. Generally speaking we are, but in some older buildings some areas have lower rates of ventilation. We would target larger units to those areas. Most of that can be done remotely. You do need to inspect ot get the data.

Swift: Our plan is really to put one in every space. We felt like trying to evaluate the level of need could change from time to time. In an abundance of caution it would be best to put in every environment. It will also help with influenza and other airborne infections.

Lazarus: I assume there is a recurring mintenance caost ofn repalcing filters.

Lauzzana: Yes, typically they have a pre filter in fornt of HEPA filter which extend’s the HEPAs life. Often the prefilter is washable ot get extra life from it.


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Lazuarus: We talked about the bus, how are we going to handle air quality on buses. I assumed we’d have windows open, but you said not windows open in bathorroms.

Lauzzana: We’re not in charge of buses. Bathrooms are a little unique since flushing toilets, hand washing, has a highly aerosolized environment. You want exhaust fan doing the work. The window can disrupt that. The exhaust fan makes a negative pressure. Opening the window can make a breeze and push the aerosols out to the hallway. A bus is different, it isn’t hyper aerosolized.

Swift: Ms Margolis is working with transportation. Best guidance is to keep windows open all the time.

Lazarus: We don’t want parents who usually use the bus switching to driving which leads to congestion at pickup and drop off.

Swift: We believe fresh air ventilation is the best we can do on a bus. Whether parents trust that is their parents call. They will be cleaned between routes and windows open for ventilation.

Lazarus: Will we still social distance on buses. Some are pretty full, others are empty. Have we thought about those protocols? Like airplanes were using empty seats.

Swift: We can’t double the number fo buses. We will be forthright with how many students will be on a bus. Beginning with early elementary & high needs students we should be able to provide additional buses. But it will be more challenging in a full hybrid model.

Baskett: When addressing filters I hope we consider all costs – filters, ongoing man hour to replace filters, etc. We have showers in high schools. Do we need to worry about addressing those?

Lauzzana: My understanding is we are minimize or eliminate the use of those at this time. They are a concern area for legionella.

Swift: By and large locker rooms are mostly used for changing. Showers are not used much.


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Nelson: A followup to Trustee Gaynor’s question and I’d be surprised if there’s a good answer. Do you know if studies of transmission within schools take into account physical configuration within school? That would be the way to get information.

Lauzzana: You’re reaching the limits of my scientific knowledge. Thermodynamics is complicated – study of air supply, where supply duct work. How wind is blowing and which way wind is blowing. If you create positive pressure, you send air into hallway. If you create negative pressure on downwind side, you’ll pull air from hallway. Modeling is best left to professionals.

Gaynor: I’ve been trying to read studies as possible. They’re either too small or too global. There isn’t much control for rates in community. I don’t think there is anything that fine tuned.

Kelly: I only have one question left – you covered many of them in questions already. I didn’t know what I didn’t know before.

The time range of 8-12 months to replace all the filters we replaced. We are not saying we’ll keep school closed until then, right? What will our protocol be when metrics look good and ready to return. How will we manage those spaces when to all have been swapped out yet.

Swift: When we state our plan, it does not mea every area is fully completed. There are realities of how long the work takes. Mitigation strategies would be what we can control. Not touching and then not touching our faces, regular cleaning, How many students will be in schools, what needs cleaning, will affect staff.

Rice: Trustee Kelly we pay close attention to the details. When we decided to have sports, we started with the buildings they use. Then we started on all elementaries. We’re about halfway done with the elementaries.

Johnson: Slide that talked about the size of COVID particle and also spread of influenza. Is the influenza particle about the same size as COVID?

Lauzzana: I don’t have the data but my understanding it is similar.

Johnson: Did the air turnover & filter studies consider the impact of wearing masks? Does that mean it’s even safer.

Lauzzana – That’s a fascinating question and their ability to filter particles and at what rate.


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Johnson: You mentioned the balance between energy savings and ventilation. We value sustainability and the environment. It’ll be interesting how we balance the priorities we have. I assume the filters work on electiricty and affecting the carbon footprint.

Finally the slide with the blue and green classrooms keeping physical and group distance. I assume that speaks to elementary and not secondary level. We still need to talk about secondary with passing time at those levels.

Swift: I am so glad you brought this up. The single cohort model is among the strongest recommendation. It is much more complicated at secondary. We’ve adjust e the daily schedule to have 3 cohorts a day at secondary. Plus sports or extra-curriculars so it may go to 4.

When we get messages wondering why secondary isn’t in the first phase, that is the answer. We’d have to significantly abridge our academic and exploratory programs. That is not an amenable tradeoff at secondary level.

Swift: It is a study session so feel free to ask anything else.

Johnson: I want to thank students from the Sunrise movement to talk about environmental sustainability that Trustee Lazarus and I spoke with last week. And talks about some equipment and initiatives we are pursuing. I know in high school the last thing I was thinking of was saving the planet and being politically active. They were across different A2 high schools. I hope as we look at bond strategy that we pull those students into that.

Gaynor: I want to second that. I spoke tot he group today. It is a treat to talk to high schools students. I also want to mention there is a Black Students Matter protest on Saturday at Pioneer High School put out by the Student Advocacy Center.


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Adjourn:

Motioned by Gaynor, seconded by Nelson. Unanimously passed. Adjourned at 8:14p

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