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Quincy School cafeteria now a Covid-19 screening area

Over the weekend, BPS custodians and Tufts Medical Center staffers converted the Quincy Elementary School cafeteria, just down Washington Street from the hospital, into a clinic for screening people with Covid-19 symptoms.

Among the steps: Installing "an industrial-level HEPA filter negative pressure HVAC system in the cafeteria," to ensure no air from the cafeteria gets into the rest of the school, according to a letter from BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius to school parents and teachers.

Casellius wrote:

This auxiliary clinic will provide a critical service necessary to help stop the spread of the virus and ensure the safety of our community. As the COVID-19 emergency continues to develop, the facility may need to be used for additional purposes. We are in constant, daily communication with the Mayor's Office and public health officials to closely monitor and address all concerns as this unprecedented situation continues to evolve.

Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our students and staff, and we are proud to play a role serving our entire community during this crisis. The nature of the Quincy facility allows for the part of the building used for the screening clinic to remain separate from teaching and learning areas. Strict safety protocols, rigorous infection prevention and control procedures, and the same thorough daily cleaning measures taken at the Medical Center are also in place to ensure the safety of everyone in the community. These measures are in place above and beyond the guidance of the current public health standards. Following Tufts MC's use of the Quincy School space, we will work with Tufts MC's Environmental Services Department, BPS custodial staff and our City partners to ensure the area is fully sanitized and disinfected.

Boston public schools are currently closed until at least May 4.

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Comments

With the school community + neighbors. Period. An announcement Wednesday night for something done over the weekend is completely unacceptable. (What if this were in a predominately black neighborhood, eg. a school near BMC? The City Councilors and the Globe would be raging all over this already...)

Several critical issues with the use of the cafeteria, as someone familiar with the layout of the school/immediate area:

In case the city hasn't noticed, there is senior housing (Quincy Towers) right next to the school. The entrance to the school is next to the one and only entrance for the senior housing. As we all know, testing for Covid-19 is pretty much restricted to individuals with known exposure and/or symptoms (ie. very certain that they will test positive), and those people walking by the senior housing is a recipe for disaster - seniors still need to go out to get groceries + medication!

There is also the YMCA just across the street, closer to the Tufts campus. The gym inside is a much larger space, and would make more sense for testing since it will remain closed for the foreseeable future (since gyms are bad places to practice social distancing).

Finally, Tufts already has many buildings in the Chinatown area as part of its medical school campus, including at least an open-space courtyard on Harrison Ave. It's hard to imagine that those buildings have much occupancy now, with final-year med students being fast-tracked for graduation. Perhaps it's easier to burden the city/residents rather than themselves - after all, they've already burdened the Chinatown community with young professionals driving up rents, so why not take it just a step further?

Not a public health expert, but a lot of the stuff mentioned above should be common sense.

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This sounds like schools closed until the fall. How do you reassure students and parents that the cafeteria will be properly sanitized by MAY 4TH?! No way would my child be eating there in May.

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