Schools in Lowell, Easton delay start of in-person learning due to lack of air purifiers

EASTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Coronavirus concerns from Lowell to Easton are prompting some schools to change course after teachers and students prepared for in-person classes.

Lowell Public School officials announced Tuesday that most of their students will not be able to begin in-person learning as scheduled due to a lack of air purifiers.

Students in grades 1-12 who were scheduled for in-person learning starting on Thursday — and are not assigned to substantially separate special education programs — will begin the school year in a remote learning setting after the remainder of the school’s purifiers were held up in shipping due to delays in a national supply chain, according to a release issued by Superintendent Joel D. Boyd.

Currently, there are 128 air purifiers available for use across the entire district.

“I understand how disruptive and disappointing this can be for families. Prior to making this decision, we exhausted all options – locally and nationally – for securing the air purifiers that we need as part of our protocol for exceeding health and safety guidelines necessary for reopening classrooms,” Boyd said in a statement. “Ultimately, we made a commitment to you to place student and staff safety as our top priority, and we are holding firmly to this commitment.”

Easton Public School also announced that grades 6-12 will learn remotely until at least Sept. 24 due to a shortage of air purifiers.

In a letter to the community, school officials said an order of air purifiers for Easton Middle School and Oliver Ames High School had been delayed due to a “worldwide supply chain issue.”

“We have been assured by our HVAC engineers that all six buildings are safe at this time despite the delay of air purifiers to two of the schools,” Easton Superintendent Lisha Cabral said. “However, we will use this time to consult further with the engineers to ensure that our high standards for safety are met. We understand this is an inconvenience and may cause significant scheduling issues for families.”

In-person learning was slated to begin Thursday in both Lowell and Easton.

(Copyright (c) 2020 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)