Reopening: Facilities

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection, the district will direct facilities operations toward meeting social distancing requirements and cleaning frequently touched spaces regularly. 

In carrying out projects or tasks supporting infection control, the district will meet requirements for changes associated with building spaces. The district will submit plans for changes or additions to facilities that require review by the New York State Education Department’s Office of Facilities Planning to comply with the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and the State Energy Conservation Code. 

The function, position and operation of stairs and corridor doors, which have closers with automatic hold-opens (and are automatically released by the fire alarm system) will remain unchanged.

The district plans to meet the deadline for submission of Building Condition Survey or Visual Inspections on time. In addition, the district will carry out lead-in-water sampling upon the reopening of school under conditions consistent with when the building is “normally occupied.”

Upon reopening, the district plans to increase ventilation to the greatest extent possible. The district will flush water systems in buildings that have been unoccupied. 

Additional building reopening planning and activities will include: 

  • Alterations to the configuration of existing classrooms or spaces, or the introduction of temporary or movable partitions, must be submitted to OFP, the local municipality and/or code enforcement officials for review.
    • Detail is provided under the Facilities Accommodations section. Space utilization in non-traditional instructional spaces such as cafeterias, libraries and gyms is planned, particularly in our elementary schools to allow for as many of our prekindergarten-grade 5 students to be in attendance daily as possible. These floor plans, emergency exits, etc., have been developed in conjunction with the district’s architect and submitted to OFP for approval. 
  • There is no planned use of temporary or off-site facilities.
  • The district will not be utilizing tents, either temporary or permanent, for instructional space.
  • The district will maintain all toilet fixtures in our buildings, though use will be supervised and managed to ensure proper social distancing. Many of the facilities for employees are single-user restrooms that include the sink for handwashing. Where there are communal restrooms there are stall dividers with doors between toilets. There are two bathrooms that have two individual stalls in our administrative building where use will be limited to one person at a time and “occupied” signage is available to place on the door when you enter and remove when you exit so others know when they may enter. 
    • Building use/enrollment will not exceed the maximum number of students to be enrolled in the school even with the use of gyms, cafeterias and libraries as instructional space due to the social distancing requirements that will be in place. These additional instructional areas are primarily to be used by students already enrolled in the school and part of the usual student count factored into the calculation for minimum number of toilet/sink fixtures/water fountains.
  • The district is not intending to reduce access to drinking water facilities in any of the buildings. We have incorporated frequent cleaning and disinfecting protocols of these fixtures for our Maintenance and Operations staff, who will maintain a daily cleaning log indicating time of cleaning. 
  • Each of the district’s schools operates normally at a fresh-air intake in excess of the 10% minimum threshold required by NYSED. Our HVAC systems self-balance throughout the day and the fresh-air intake increases or decreases as part of this process between the minimum 10% to a maximum of 100%. 
  • No other air-cleaning equipment (e.g., new technology) is proposed.


Facility Accommodations

The district will implement the following infection-control strategies. We are working with our architect (CSArch), who has prepared floor plans that have been submitted to the New York State Education Department's Office of Facilities Planning for approval.

  • To increase the number of students who may be able to engage in in-person learning, many of our schools will utilize gyms, cafeterias and auditorium stage areas as classroom space
  • We have received guidance on the necessary safety measures required for stage usage in terms of physical barriers at the front of the stage to prevent students or employees from falling
  • Means of egress, fire alarm system, ventilation and lighting may be affected and must be indicated on all submitted plans
    • Each of these areas meets or exceeds minimum egress requirements, ventilation and lighting requirements for student instructional space
  • We have consulted our architect and submitted floor plans to OFP for approval
  • We have designated our projects related to COVID-19 as “COVID-19 Reopening” when submitted to OFP to allow expedited reviews
    • We included an abbreviated submission consistent with the Form FP-AU Request for approval in regard to the installation of movable partitions (gym, cafeteria, library classroom dividers).
    • For the use of cafeterias, libraries, auditoriums and gymnasiums, we have submitted to OFP for approval floor plans of the entire room showing the furniture layout with egress aisles. Lighting, ventilation, means of egress and fire alarm coverage also have been indicated. 
School name Space to be used # classes will hold
Albany School of Humanities Library 2
Cafeteria 2
Gym 2
 
Delaware Community School Cafeteria 2
Gym 1
 
Eagle Point Elementary School Cafeteria 2
Gym 2
 
Giffen Memorial Elementary School Cafeteria 2
Gym 2
Auditorium Stage 1
 
Montessori Magnet School Cafeteria 2
Gym 2
 
New Scotland Elementary School Library 2
Cafeteria 2
Gym 2
 
North Albany Middle School Library 2
 
Pine Hills Elementary School Cafeteria 2
 
Sheridan Preparatory Academy Cafeteria 2
 
William S. Hackett Middle School Auditorium Stage 1
Cafe

1

Library  2

In buildings where use of the gym is proposed as instructional space, the drop curtain from the ceiling will be down to create a visible separation of space that will not impede access or egress. 

In library spaces that are proposed to be used by two classes, the relocation of bookshelves will create a physical separation of the space that continues to provide proper egress, lighting and ventilation to the space. 

In cafeterias proposed to hold two classes, either free-standing cubicle-style dividers or bookshelves would be used to provide physical separation to the space. 


Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures

The district is maintaining all of its plumbing fixtures (toilet, sinks, water fountains, etc.) across the schools. Our buildings already meet or exceed the required number to comply with the building code and we have both a plumber who is employed by the district and a plumbing company who is under contract with the district to ensure these fixtures remain operational

Our cleaning and disinfecting protocols speak to the frequency with which water fountains will need to be disinfected during the day. Buildings have remained occupied or in use as we have had our essential personnel present and utilizing the plumbing to complete cleaning assignments, restroom use, etc. 

Restrooms that have more than one toilet have full stalls as dividers to separate the space and provide privacy. Most of the bathrooms utilized by employees across the district are single rooms that include both the toilet and sink for handwashing, so these would not pose a situation with more than one person in the space at a time. 

Direction has been and will continue to be provided to employees about limiting the number of people at a time where there are “communal” bathrooms. Signage is being provided to indicate “occupied” for two bathrooms in the administrative building that have been identified as needing to be single-use due to space confinement, but that have two stalls so only one will be in use at a time. 

Additionally, employees will be supervising student use of bathroom facilities to ensure social distancing as students may need to wait in line and at sinks.

Our newest school building does not have paper towel dispensers, so some have been ordered and will be installed in preparation for reopening. Signage will be posted to reinforce the need for proper handwashing and what that looks like.


Ventilation

Currently, all of our ventilation equipment allows us to maximize the filtration while allowing for continued fresh-air intake and operational equipment.  

As the systems self-balance throughout the day to maintain a particular temperature, fresh-air intake can range from the 10% minimum up to 100%. These systems are monitored and can be actively managed to increase the minimum fresh-air intake set point and/or increase fresh-air intake as needed or desired, while also still providing a climate-controlled and filtered-air environment, which is medically required for some students and employees, but also provides a more conducive environment for all students and employees as they learn and work throughout the day. 

Currently all of our ventilation equipment uses MERV-8 filters. This allows us to maximize the filtration while allowing for continued fresh-air intake and operational equipment. Our protocol requires filter changes at least twice annually, with more frequent checks to make sure the filters do not get too full or clogged, which would limit the fresh-air intake and equipment operability. This varies by building and is something our labor foremen are responsible for overseeing under the supervision of our deputy superintendent for business and finance.

Additionally, in May 2019 our community approved a capital project that includes upgrades to our climate controls and monitoring in most of the buildings. This work has been started and is expected to be completed during the 2020-21 school year. Our Maintenance and Operations Department has an HVAC/heating contractor that supports us in preventive maintenance to maintain operability and cleaning, and ensuring proper filter sealing.

We have consulted with our architectural and engineering firm around ventilation, whether to look at higher-rated filters, fresh-air turnover, etc., and will continue to do so throughout the year to ensure we are managing the fresh-air intake, power needs and capacity of the equipment. 

The district will complete and submit our Building Condition Survey (BCS) to NYSED by March 2021 and are looking forward to receiving that current assessment of mechanicals throughout the district.