Students may have noticed that the air on the second floor of MGCI feels different from that of the other floors. The air exchange system for the older parts of the second floor have been broken for the past seven months.
The ventilation system is responsible for replacing stale indoor air with fresh air from outside. Garneau was built as an enclosed space with windows that do not open, which increases the importance of an operational air exchange system. With the air flow broken, the air on most of the second floor, not including the English and French rooms, is not being shifted or replaced. This results in poor air quality as the air is either too hot or too cold.
In addition to creating heavy, dense, and stale air, the broken air exchange also has health implications. Parts of the school are only receiving half of the oxygen that they are supposed to receive by the TDSB’s Health and Safety standards. Teachers on the second floor of the school have reported being unhappy about the lack of air flow. They have experienced symptoms such as headaches, drowsiness, fatigue, and nosebleeds. Older people are more susceptible to health problems, but students are affected as well. However, no attempts to notify students or parents about this issue have been made. When given this information, Grade 10 student Sherrie Cheng commented that “the school isn’t doing enough to make Garneau ‘safe’ according to TDSB standards, I mean, 50% is a big difference.”
This issue was brought to our teachers’ attention completely by chance. A technician was working on the ventilation system in Mr. Mirza’s second floor classroom and needed to access the ceiling panels. He then realized that the piece of equipment that controls the ducts on the second floor was not operating. These ducts are responsible for distributing air to different parts of the building. In previous school years, this control unit would turn on and off every so often, but it has not been on since September. The technician stated that the device was outdated and should have been replaced a decade ago. Some of the devices on the third floor of the school may also be malfunctioning.
Mr. Jan, a representative of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (OSSTF) who works at MGCI, has been working at the school since 1989. He said that this has “always been an issue for as long as I have been here. The building has never had a fully functioning air conditioning or heating system that worked constantly.”
The ventilation system have been repaired many times over the years, but these repairs were only temporary – it reportedly would have cost thousands of dollars to fix the system completely. Mr. Mirza said that this cost “is nothing compared to people’s health.”
Emails have been sent by the school administration and teachers to the TDSB and OSSTF Health and Safety departments, so both organizations are aware of this problem. It has been acknowledged as a major concern, but nothing has been done about it. The TDSB is responsible for the repairs to the air exchange system, but it has a long list of repair jobs, and it is therefore not known when the board will reach MGCI’s stale air problem.