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OPRA Request for School Reopening and Air Quality/Systems Information

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Dear Ridgewood Public School District,

This is a request for public records made under OPRA and the common law right of access. I am not required to fill out an official form. Please acknowledge receipt of this message.

I am requesting, under OPRA, copies of your school district’s records and reports on air systems and air quality, among other items listed below. This is in my capacity with the media and as a published author & historian. I have written for the Washington Post, Newsweek/Daily Beast, Haaretz, Tablet and other news outlets. I also have appeared on podcasts from Slate and Salon, on radio for WNYC, among others. I also have authored or co-authored three books. I am looking to gather information about how districts have prepared for and responded to the COVID pandemic as it relates to schools. I am considering a book or expose on the issue of school re-openings in NJ.For my OPRA request I would like to specifically request the following:

Records, documents, digital or paper, on the most recent air inspections or audits of the air for each and any building in your district, prior to March 15, 2020.

The records and documents, digital or paper, on your current air-systems and HVAC including:
*The last updates and upgrades to your HVAC systems in every school building in your district.
*The model and type of HVAC system used in every school building in your district.
*The model, type and CADR of every air purifier used in your building.
*The MERV rating on the filters you use in all of your current buildings.
*The MERV rating for your prefiltration.
*Annual expenses on heating and cooling for the district.

Records, digital or paper, of any consultations you have made with outside experts or firms, related to COVID19, health preparations, air systems, air quality, for your district or any of the buildings in your district. This should include any materials provided by said experts or firms to your district.

Records of any and all purchase orders that include the following: hand sanitizers, masks, gloves, disinfectant sprays, portable air purifiers, CO2 gauges, anemometers and/or hygrometers.

All communications you have, digital or written, between administrators, union (NJEA) officials, staff members, maintenance workers, parents or board members, on the issue of school reopenings in 2020.

Records of any complaints, over the past 15 years, related to air quality or ventilation, in any of your buildings. This would include but is not limited to complaints about humidity or excessive chilliness in any room; complaints about malfunctioning or inadequate HVAC/air conditioning systems or thermostats.

Records of any communications or discussions you have had relating to any the following outside government, scientific or professional groups and their guidelines related to safely reopening schools:

Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health, the National Academy of Sciences, The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Association of Physical Plant, Administrators/Leadership in Educational Facilities (APPA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Federation of European Heating, National Institute of Building Sciences.

The above groups have argued that schools should have at least for one or more of the following interventions to safely reopen schools: MERV13 quality HVAC filters, true portable HEPA air purifiers in every room, and/or a consistent humidity in buildings and rooms between 40 to 60%.

The school district’s reopening plan as well as all records and communications surrounding the decision to reopen.

If, at any point before the official start of school, your district chooses to go to full, remote instruction-- with no in-building, in-person instruction-- for more than four weeks, please disregard this request.

Regards,
Stuart Wexler

Antoinette Kelly, Ridgewood Public School District

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Wexler,

 

I am in receipt of your August 26, 2020 email (below) requesting copies of
our school district’s records and reports on air systems and air quality,
among other items listed below.  Pursuant to the current pandemic rules
(See link:
[1]https://www.state.nj.us/grc/news/alerts/...
) ,  I, as Custodian of Records, will need additional time for myself and
district professionals to gather the requested documents and formulate
responses.  Accordingly, the responses will not be available until
September 23, 2020.   There will be a special services charge for my time
and that of our IT professionals, engineers and architects for an
estimated 30 hours.  Total estimated cost is $4500.00.   A 15% deposit of
$675.00 is due on September 4, 2020 to begin the process, with the balance
of $3,825 due on September 21, 2020.  Please make checks payable to the
Ridgewood Board of Education.  Once full payment is received, responses
will be sent to you by September 23, 2020.    As a courtesy to you, I am
enclosing a copy of the district’s reopening plan.   I also encourage you
to visit our website at
[2]https://www.ridgewood.k12.nj.us/our_dist...
to read more about the re-opening plan, and communications surrounding the
decision to re-open.   I also refer you to the NJ Department of Education
re-opening guidance: [3]https://nj.gov/education/reopening/ ; the CDC
guidelines for schools:
[4]https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nco...
; the NJ Department of Health guidelines for re-opening procedures:
[5]https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/covi... ; and the NJ
indoor air quality standards:
[6]https://www.state.nj.us/health/workplace....

 

If your request for access to a government record has been denied or
unfilled within the seven (7) business days required by law, you have a
right to challenge the district’s decision to deny access.  At your
option, you may either institute a proceeding in the Superior Court of New
Jersey or file a complaint with the GRC by completing the Denial of Access
Complaint Form.  You may contact the GRC by toll-free telephone at
(866)-850-0511, by mail at P.O. Box 819, Trenton, New Jersey 08625, by
email at [7][email address] , or at their website at
[8]www.state.nj.us/grc .  The Council can also answer other questions
about the law.  All questions regarding complaints filed in Superior Court
should be directed to the Court Clerk in your County.       

 

 Sincerely,

Antoinette Kelly,CPA

School Business Administrator

Board Secretary

Ridgewood Public Schools

49 Cottage Place

Ridgewood, NJ 07450

 

Phone: 201-670-2700 Ext10503

[9]Email:[email address]

 

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Antoinette Kelly, Ridgewood Public School District

Good Morning Mr. Wexler:
I just wanted to follow up on my response to your OPRA request. I wanted
to confirm that you received it.
Sincerely,
Antoinette Kelly,CPA
School Business Administrator
Board Secretary
Ridgewood Public Schools
49 Cottage Place
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Phone: 201-670-2700 Ext10503
[1]Email:[email address]

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We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are STUART WEXLER please sign in and let everyone know.