NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)New York City students and staff are getting set to head back to class in less than two weeks. This has many parents and students wondering what school buildings are doing to prepare.

CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge went to a high school in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday to find out.

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At a City Council hearing, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said every single school with students age 12 and over — about 700 in total — will have vaccination sites, where shots will be administered during the school day.

“We are going to bring vaccinations directly to our students,” Porter said.

The vaccination sites in schools will begin the week of Sept. 13 and will return to schools the week of Oct. 4 for second doses. Parental consent for minors is required.

Officials showed Duddridge how the new cleaning protocol and updated ventilation system will work. She also got a tour with the city’s top education official, who said this is the most important school opening the Big Apple has ever had.

“We want to show you what we’ve done, and we will continue to be open and transparent about what’s happening in our buildings,” Porter said.


Porter showed Duddridge how school facilities have been upgrading their buildings for the return to class in two weeks, giving her a behind-the-scenes look at Murry Bergtraum High School on Pearl Street.

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First, she visited the school’s machine room, where the main air filtration system has been updated with HEPA and MERV 13 filters, which catch more particles and reduce airborne allergens.

“We didn’t have these filters up until this year. In the past, we would change filters every three months. Now, it’s happening more,” said Mark DeVincenzo, deputy director of facilities for Districts 1 and 2.

On top of that, white air purifiers have been added to every room for an additional level of protection. So, even if there’s a COVID-19 outbreak in one classroom, it won’t affect the others.

“The ventilation system in that room should still keep that room and the rest of the building safe. All of the air supply to that room is also exhausted from that room, so there’s no cross-contamination between classrooms,” said John Shea, CEO of the Division of School Facilities.


Every day, crews will constantly be cleaning and wiping down high-touch surfaces, like doorknobs, and every night, classrooms will be disinfected by “COVID busters.”

“They’re putting in a tremendous amount of hours. They’re working overtime, working Saturdays, and in some cases Sundays, to make sure the schools are ready,” said Shirley Aldebol, vice president of Local 32BJ SEIU.

Students must mask up inside. KN95s will be provided to them, along with hand sanitizer. Schools will also follow the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation of three feet of social distancing for desks.

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School officials said parents and students are welcome to book a tour at their school to ease nerves. In addition, a back-to-school forum is being held in each borough for anyone who wants to ask questions.

Natalie Duddridge