By Christina Hager

WORCESTER (CBS) – A group of students and parents is worried about the air inside of school buildings and how poor circulation could help spread the coronavirus.

“It’s been rough on everybody,” said Irene Patchiunas, who takes care of her young grandchildren when their remote classes are in session. At their Worcester school, there’s roof construction underway. The City has pledged to invest $15 million in new HVAC to improve the air quality in all its schools. “I think the investment is great because the schools are old,” said Patchiunas.

Other parents are less confident. “I’m very concerned about students and teachers going back to schools that weren’t designed to have HVAC systems,” said Worcester father Nate Clark.

RELATED: Open Windows, Doors Could Help Stop Coronavirus Spread In Schools, Harvard Experts Say

Parents and students from across the state expressed similar concerns Thursday. “What happens if one of us gets sick?” asked Katy Ochoa, a student from Chelsea. She and others spoke during a virtual news conference organized by the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance.

“We ended up having COVID,” said Suleika Soto, a Boston mom whose family got sick last spring. “What would have happened if my kids did have contact with the schools? How would the district handle it?”

Chelsea student Victoria Stutto said returning to school in-person does not seem feasible. “My school has 30-plus kids packed into each classroom, and some classrooms don’t even have windows,” she said.

“If she gets sick, that means that I’m going to get sick,” said Janina Rackard, pointing to her daughter next to her. Rackard is not only a mom, but a teacher. “I choose not to put my daughter in that situation,” she said.

The Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance is now calling on local and state lawmakers to step up with leadership and funding to make sure Massachusetts schools are safe before reopening.

Christina Hager

  1. JOHN J DUMAS says:

    We have plenty of closed local stores which could be one room schools. No need to have kids from all over the city sharing germs. Poding works.

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