On September 22nd, YUFA received a delayed response from AVP Facilities and Services Bradley Parkes to the Association’s questions on ventilation and related HVAC operations. The Employer’s written response , along with Parkes’ response at the COVID Table meeting in August 2022, continue to provide contradictory and at times, disturbing information.
For example, at the August COVID Table meeting, the Employer indicated that CO2 sensors have been bypassed since 2015 at York University to pursue an “energy efficiency strategy” for HVAC systems. The Employer suggested that this might be why CFMS Consulting Inc. reports on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) operations and practices identified many CO2 sensors errors in various buildings on campus.
It is disturbing that, in the context a pandemic spread through airborne transmission, the Employer appeared to maintain focus on an “energy efficiency strategy” through continued bypassing of existing CO2 sensors built into York’s HVAC system. Instead, if the Employer had engaged these CO2 sensors in the context of COVID 19 as an emerging health and safety crisis, these sensor readings could have provided additional information to proactively help identify and diagnose problems with ventilation.
On September 22nd, the Employer did provide a list of operational issues identified by CFMS Consulting Inc which university trades staff and external contractors were instructed to deal with “as needed”. The Employer shared the findings and solutions in the following Excel spreadsheet link which YUFA members can access: CFMS HVAC Commissioning Report and Actions Record
YUFA members should report air quality concerns to YUFA JHSC Reps
As colder weather approaches, YUFA strongly encourages members to continue to report any concerns about poor ventilation and “stuffy air” in campus buildings to the YUFA Joint Health & Safety Committee representative connected to the particular building of concern. YUFA JHSC representatives can then demand that air quality assessments be conducted.
A list of YUFA JHSC representatives can be accessed on the YUFA website.
Recently, the Association’s Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) Representatives learned that York University will likely be turning down the supply of fresh air and relying on more recycled air as temperatures fall over the Fall and Winter months. Without adequate fresh air changes, the recycled air contaminated with COVID-19 and other seasonal viruses will remain in indoor spaces for longer, which increases the risk of infection.
As temperatures cool, maintaining an adequate supply of fresh in the buildings and proper ventilation is vital to protect the health & safety of the York University community.
The Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization stated on October 7th that “(c)onsistent with other respiratory viruses, COVID-19 activity may increase in the fall and winter.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, “COVID-19 will continue to spread at different levels in our communities, and outbreaks will still occur. Masks are one of the most effective individual public health measures that we can use to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19.” YUFA advises members to consider wearing a well-fitted mask in all indoor areas, and consider receiving the full complement of COVID-19 and seasonal flu vaccines.
YUFA continues to urge the Employer to mitigate the spread of COVID-19
YUFA, again, strongly urges the employer to adopt measures to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, and other seasonal viruses, such as colds and flu including:
● Ensuring the availability and accessibility of a wide range of well-fitting, high-quality masks
● Providing additional HEPA air purifiers in all instructional spaces to ensure between 6-12 air changes per hour (ACH)
● Ensuring MERV-13 filters are fully installed in the Air Handling Units (AHU) across all buildings and regular maintenance of these units
● Providing Air Quality sensors in York libraries for the community to access, similar to other library programs throughout Ontario
● Installing humidifiers in instructional spaces to ensure relative humidity between 40-60%, which adds another layer of defence against airborne transmission of the coronavirus
Members are also entitled to sick leave and should contact YUFA should they have any health and safety questions or concerns.