NEISD technicians inspect campuses, monitor air quality ahead of new school year
In an electrical room filled with equipment buzzing was John Tuttle and his fellow technicians.
“These are our outside ducts bringing fresh air into the building. We’re always changing the air,” he explained as he pointed to the ceiling.
Tuttle is one of many hands working behind the scenes to keep buildings up and running ahead of the new school year.
“We’ve got 32 guys that are working on all the air handlers. From the boilers, to the chillers, to the HVAC- which is the air handlers- to our portables with window units,” he said.
There are more than 65,000 air filters at campuses across the District.
NEISD technicians change them out daily and replace them with new ones treated with electrostatic cleaners.
They are also able to monitor individual classrooms levels right from their laptop.
“You can click on the classrooms and we can look at them and see exactly what that classroom is doing as far as temperature and air flow,” one explained.
The heating and cooling system keeps classrooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
They also filter the air, for example, if someone coughs or sneezes.
“As the air is sucked into the air handler, it catches the impurities, the dust, the molds, the spores, and traps them in there that way it doesn’t get into the coil or go into the classrooms. It all catches and stops right there,” Tuttle explained.
That airflow is monitored by people like Nicholas Keller of NEISD’s Indoor Air Quality Department.
Kellar has been in NEISD for 15 years in total.
“Indoor Air Quality was established in North East about ten years ago. I’ve been in the department for over 8 years. Our goal initially was to help students and staff stay healthy and be in our schools. Mold was first on the list, then asthma- just the overall quality of air we have in our classrooms,” Kellar explained.
Kellar said they have also initiated a ‘pre-purge’ of campus buildings.
So, every morning before staff or students even walk in the door, an automated system will remove all of the old air and replace it with fresh air.
“People are concerned especially with the virus going aerosol, this will eliminate and purge it through the system,” he said.
With the first day of school just days away, Keller said a team will continue to update, upgrade, and monitor every campus to keep kids and staff safe and healthy.
“We deal with our filtration, we deal with odors, water intrusion, mold and now we also deal with COVID-19. We’ve always been ahead of it before it’s become an issue. We are confident at this stage that we are in a safe place for everybody.”