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Connecticut Municipalities Join Teachers' Unions To Fight For Better School Air Quality

Alan Levine

Connecticut cities and towns have joined the state’s teachers' unions to push state lawmakers to fund improved ventilation systems in schools. They said too many schools in the state have bad air quality.

Kate Dias of the Connecticut Education Association, a lobby group for 43,000 teachers across the state, said 97% of teachers recently surveyed are concerned about the air quality in their aging school buildings.

“Students don’t learn when they are just trying to stay a little bit cool. And conversely in the winter time, with the pandemic, we were forced to leave windows open in 30-degree weather to try and encourage ventilation," Dias said.

John DeLong of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities said cities and towns don’t have the money to improve school HVAC systems, despite the federal COVID-19 relief money they’ve received.

“The expense of replacing an outdated or dysfunctional air quality system is more than the entire allotment that towns have received in ARP funding,” DeLong said.

DeLong said that’s why the state has to help.

State lawmakers are expected to meet in a special session this fall to decide how to spend some of Connecticut's American Rescue Plan money that's yet to be allocated.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.