MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Even after teachers, staff, and students have already begun hybrid learning, and are due to return to classrooms next week, more than half of rooms inspected at Columbia High, Maplewood Middle, South Orange Middle, Seth Boyden and Marshall schools were deemed unfit for use. The majority of rooms at Clinton, Jefferson, South Mountain, South Mountain Annex and Tuscan elementary schools were deemed fit. None of the rooms at the Central and Transportation offices passed inspection.
The rooms were inspected by representatives from the South Orange Maplewood School District, South Orange Maplewood Education Association (SOMEA) and New Jersey Education Association (NJEA).
Reasons a room could have failed inspection included having a broken radiator, broken unit ventilator (univent), not enough windows that open, no Odorox machine or not enough air circulation/fresh air. Some classrooms and office spaces that failed the initial inspection are still undergoing repairs and may be deemed fit for use after a second walkthrough.
Through the district's communication director, the district thanked teachers and administrators for their work to safely reopen schools:
“As a result of our preparation for reopening and our continued efforts to address concerns raised by staff, the majority of classrooms are fit for use. Teachers and parents have been notified of classroom reassignments or virtual assignments as necessary. Our principals, whose efforts over these last few days have been praiseworthy, continue to dialogue with teachers to address concerns. We are thankful for our teachers’ and SOMEA’s commitment to working with us toward creative and reasonable solutions that will best serve our students and families.”
Columbia High School(Part 1, Part 2): A majority of classrooms that failed were due to non-functioning univent, no mechanical vent or temperature could not be maintained above 68 degrees as per state regulation.
Maplewood Middle School: 56 percent (39/70) of rooms at failed inspection including the Ricalton gym, library, guidance office and band room. Of those 39 rooms, 15 did not have any univent or the univent motor was not working and 24 did not have proper ventilation.
South Orange Middle School: 53 percent (27/51) of rooms at failed inspection including the nurse’s office, library and little theater. Of the 27 rooms, 17 did not have any univent or the univent motor was not working and 10 did not have proper ventilation.
Seth Boyden School: 59 percent (26/44) of rooms at failed inspection including the main office, lower gym, cafeteria and nurse’s office. Of those 26 rooms, 13 did not have any univent or the univent motor was not working and 13 did not have proper ventilation.
Clinton School: 35 percent (15/43) rooms were deemed unfit including the main office, library and staff lounge. Of those 15 rooms, 11 did not have any univent or the univent motor was not working and four did not have proper ventilation.
Tuscan School: 44 percent (18/41) of rooms at failed inspection including the library and teacher’s lounge. Of those 18 rooms, 12 did not have any univent or the univent motor was not working and six did not have proper ventilation.
South Mountain-Annex School: 31 percent (4/13) of rooms failed inspection including the main office, staff lounge and library. All four of the rooms did not have any univent or the univent motor was not working.
Marshall School: 53 percent (17/32) of rooms failed inspection including the main office and accompanying restroom which do not have mechanical ventilation. Of the 17 rooms, 14 did not have any univent or the univent motor was not working and three did not have proper ventilation.
Walkthroughs were conducted at both Jefferson and South Mountain, schools that serve students in grades 3-5 which are not included in the district’s phase 3 return to learn plan.
Jefferson School: 43 percent (20/46) of rooms including the nurse’s office, girl’s bathroom, upper and lower libraries and the P.E. offices were deemed unfit. Of the 20 rooms, 15 had no univent or the univent motor was not working and five had improper ventilation.
South Mountain School: 28 percent (5/18) of rooms at failed inspection including the Ricalton Gym, library, guidance office and band room. Of the five rooms, three did not have any univent or the univent motor was not working and two did not have proper ventilation. The nurse’s office at South Mountain was not checked.
Walkthroughs were also conducted at Montrose School (Pre-K) however heaters had not been turned on beforehand so no determinations could be made.
Students and teachers will be returning Monday for hybrid in person learning.
Get your local news delivered to your inbox for FREE each day. Sign up to get all the news as it happens at www.TAPinto.net/enews. Celebrating Something Special? Showcase Your Wedding, Christening, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Graduation, Reunion and MORE on TAPinto Milestones.
OTHER LOCAL NEWS:
TAPinto SOMA is a free online newspaper serving the Townships of Maplewood and South Orange Village with no paywall. TAPinto SOMA is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.