Air Quality

  • Directed by public health guidance, Boston Public Schools is working hard to make sure our buildings have the best possible ventilation and air quality. Our school buildings fall into one of three categories: buildings with central HVAC, buildings with steam heat and limited mechanical ventilation, and buildings with steam heat and no mechanical ventilation

    Air Quality Testing & Results

    There is no COVID-19 specific air quality testing available. However, on September 4, BPS started indoor air quality testing, and every school building will be tested by October 1. In buildings with steam heat and limited ventilation, air quality is tested by measuring carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, temperature, volatile organic compounds or VOCs, and total dust. Results will be shared with school leaders.

    Additional COVID-19 Safety Measures

    Following CDC recommendations for operating schools during COVID-19, we are taking these additional steps to increase ventilation rates and the flow of fresh air as much as possible:

    • Window repairs: Opening windows and doors is highly recommended to ensure adequate ventilation. While schools were closed, BPS staff inspected all 27,500 windows in the district. Repairs are currently being completed in two phases:
      • Phase one will make sure at least one window opens in every classroom. As of September 11, 241 windows have been repaired and 52 are in process.
      • Phase two will involve repairing an additional 7,000 windows throughout the fall, which will ensure multiple windows are operable in every classroom. 
    • We have ordered 6,000 fans, which will be installed in classroom windows to increase airflow.
    • Classroom temperature settings will be raised and boiler runtimes increased to provide additional heat when windows are opened.
    • All exhaust fans are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

    Buildings with Central HVAC

    What It Is and How It Works

    There are 38 school buildings in the district with all-inclusive heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. These systems maintain air quality, control temperatures, and regulate humidity by pulling fresh, filtered air into the building and blowing indoor air outside. Buildings in this category typically have limited operational windows. 

    All central HVAC systems are operated and monitored remotely using an Automatic Temperature Controls (ATC) system, which allows the BPS Planning & Engineering team to see whether the equipment is operating properly and to make adjustments when needed. 

    Preventative Maintenance & Repairs 

    The Planning & Engineering team manages all preventative maintenance and repairs to HVAC systems using highly qualified mechanics and technicians. Central HVAC systems are inspected, serviced, and repaired on a seasonal schedule. For example, preparation for air conditioning operations begins in January and includes service to all HVAC equipment. Air filter changes are scheduled based on recommendations from the equipment manufacturers and industry best practices, but scheduled replacements are adjusted when needed.

    Schools with Central HVAC

    Blackstone, William Elementary

    Boston Arts Academy

    Carter, William E. School

    Charlestown High School

    Community Academy of Science and Health

    Condon, James F. K-8

    Dearborn STEM 6-12 Academy

    East Boston Early Education Center

    Eliot (Charter St.)

    Ellison Parks Early Education School

    English High School

    Frederick, Lilla G. Pilot Middle School

    Haley, Dennis C. Pilot School

    Harvard/Kent Elementary

    Hayes, Roland School of Music

    Haynes, Rev. Dr. Michael E. Early Education Center

    Hennigan, James W. K-8 School

    Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

    Jackson/Mann K-8 School

    Lee, Joseph K-8 School

    Lyon, Mary K-8 School

    Madison Park Technical Vocational High School

    Mattahunt Elementary

    Mildred Avenue K-8 School

    Mission Hill K-8 School

    Muniz, Margarita Academy

    Murphy, Richard J. K-8 School

    O'Bryant, John D. School of Math & Science

    Ohrenberger, William H. School

    Orchard Gardens K-8 School

    Quincy, Josiah Elementary

    Quincy, Josiah Upper School (mods)

    Tynan, Joseph P. Elementary

    Umana, Mario Academy

    UP Academy Dorchester

    UP Academy Holland

    West Zone Early Learning Center


    Buildings with Steam Heat

    What It Is and How It Works 

    There are 27 buildings in the district with steam heat and no mechanical ventilation. Instead of mechanical ventilation systems that circulate air using ducts and fans, these buildings use windows as the primary source of airflow. Heat is provided by steam-heating boilers and radiators. These buildings do have exhaust fans in all bathrooms, which continuously blow indoor air outside of the building. 

    All steam heat systems are controlled and monitored remotely using an Automatic Temperature Controls (ATC) system, which allows the BPS Planning & Engineering team to see whether the equipment is operating properly and to make adjustments when needed. 

    Preventative Maintenance & Repairs 

    The Planning & Engineering team manages all preventative maintenance and repairs to heating systems using highly qualified mechanics and technicians. Steam heat systems are inspected, serviced, and repaired on a seasonal schedule. For example, preparation for heating operations begins in July of each year and includes service to all boiler and radiator equipment. Boilers are also inspected annually by the MA Department of Public Safety. 

    Schools with Steam Heat and No Mechanical Ventilation

    Alighieri, Dante Montessori School

    Baldwin Early Learning Pilot Academy

    Bates, Phineas Elementary

    Beethoven, Ludwig van Elementary

    Boston Collaborative High School

    Boston Day and Evening Academy

    Boston International High School

    Channing, William Ellery Elementary

    Chittick, James J. Elementary

    Clap, Roger Elementary School

    Community Academy

    Conley, George H. Elementary

    Curley K-8 School

    Dudley Street Neighborhood School

    Eliot (585 Commercial)

    Ellis, David A. Elementary

    Everett, Edward Elementary

    Gardner Pilot Academy

    Greater Egleston High School

    Greenwood, Sarah K-8 School

    Henderson, Dr. William W. K-12 Inclusion School Upper

    Hernandez, Rafael K-8

    Higginson/Lewis K-8

    Holmes, Oliver W. Elementary

    Kennedy, Edward M. Academy for Health Careers (9-10 & 11-12) 

    Kennedy, Patrick J. Elementary

    Kenny, Thomas J. Elementary

    Kilmer, Joyce K-8 School (K-3)

    Kilmer, Joyce K-8 School (4-8)

    Lee Academy

    Lyon, Mary High School

    Manning, Joseph P. Elementary

    McKay, Donald K-8 School

    McKinley, William Middle

    McKinley, William Preparatory High School

    Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus Elementary

    O'Donnell, Hugh R. Elementary

    Otis, James Elementary

    Perkins, Michael J. Elementary

    Philbrick, John D. Elementary

    Shaw, Pauline A. Elementary

    Sumner, Charles Elementary

    Taylor, Charles H. Elementary

    Timilty, James P. Middle School

    UP Academy Boston

    Warren/Prescott K-8 School

    Young Achievers K-8 School


    Buildings with Steam Heat and Limited Ventilation 

    What It Is and How It Works 

    Mechanical ventilation systems circulate fresh air using ducts and fans rather than relying on natural airflow through open windows or doors. There are 68 school buildings in the district with steam heat and limited mechanical ventilation. These buildings use steam-heating boilers and radiators as their heating source. Windows are the primary source of ventilation, but they also have some mechanical ventilation such as exhaust fans, which continuously blow indoor air to the outdoors, and unit ventilators that filter and control the temperature of outdoor air blown into a classroom.

    All steam heat and limited ventilation systems are scheduled, operated, and monitored remotely using an Automatic Temperature Controls (ATC) system, which allows the BPS Planning & Engineering team to see whether the equipment is operating properly and to make adjustments when needed. 

    Preventative Maintenance & Repairs

    The Planning & Engineering team manages all preventative maintenance and repairs to heating and ventilation systems using highly qualified mechanics and technicians. These systems are inspected, serviced, and repaired on a seasonal schedule. For example, preparation for heating operations begins in June and includes service to all boiler and radiator equipment. Boilers are also inspected annually by the MA Department of Public Safety. Air filter changes are scheduled based on recommendations from the equipment manufacturers and industry best practices, but scheduled replacements are adjusted when needed.

    Schools with Steam Heat and Limited Mechanical Ventilation 

    Adams, Samuel Elementary

    Another Course to College

    Boston Adult Technical Academy

    Boston Community Leadership Academy

    Boston Green Academy

    Boston Latin Academy

    Boston Latin School

    Boston Teachers Union K-8 Pilot

    Bradley, Manassah E. Elementary

    Brighton High School

    Burke, Jeremiah E. High School

    Dever, Paul A. Elementary

    East Boston High School

    Edison, Thomas A. K-8 School

    Edwards, Clarence R. Middle School

    Eliot (Salem St.)

    Excel High School

    Fenway High School

    Grew, Henry Elementary

    Guild, Curtis Elementary

    Hale, Nathan Elementary

    Henderson, Dr. William W. K-12 Inclusion School Lower

    Higginson, Henry L. Inclusion K0-2 School

    Hurley, Joseph J. K-8 School

    Irving, Washington Middle School

    Kennedy, John F Elementary

    King, Jr., Martin Luther K-8 School

    Lyndon, Patrick K-8 School

    Mason, Samuel W. Elementary

    Mather Elementary

    McCormack, John W. Middle School

    McKinley, William School

    McKinley, William Elementary

    McKinley, William South End Academy

    Mendell, Ellis Elementary

    New Mission High School

    Perry, Oliver H. K-8 School

    Quincy, Josiah Upper School

    Roosevelt, Franklin D. K-8 School (K1-1 & 2-8)

    Russell, William E. Elementary

    Snowden, Muriel S. International High School

    TechBoston Academy 6-12

    Tobin, Maurice J. K-8 School

    Winship, F. Lyman Elementary

    Winthrop, John Elementary

    Trotter, William Monroe K-8 School