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TOWNSHEND — Maintenance of air ventilation and heating systems in Leland & Gray Union Middle and High School is anticipated to be easier once the contractors hired to help ensure the health of students and staff during the coronavirus pandemic are finished.

“These guys are doing a great job for us,” Harry Cobb, facility manager at L&G, said of Alliance Group.

Not all classes offered at L&G are being held virtually as air systems are checked and modified when needed. Principal Bob Thibault said an advanced placement class is meeting at the fire station in Jamaica and the Hands On, Minds Engaged or HANDS program is happening outside the school building. And some teachers are using their classrooms while they instruct children who are on computers elsewhere.

During the interview Thursday, Cobb said the units being addressed heat the classrooms and keep the air clean. Electronics were being updated when necessary.

Cobb said some problems were discovered regarding the ability to communicate between parts.

“Sometimes, they fix it on the spot,” he said. “Other times, they have to get parts and come back and do it.”

Cobb estimated between 30 and 35 units inside rooms were being assessed. Their parts include blower motors, heating coils and venting arms.

Brenden Patnaude, building automations technician for Alliance Group, said controllers are programmed to run the units on an automated system, making it more user friendly and easier to control and monitor the whole building. Other Alliance employees on site were responsible for the mechanical side of the preventative maintenance work.

Schools in the West River Valley Education District were assessed for ventilation issues followed by preventative maintenance. The air quality in rooms get re-evaluated before making a decision on reopening the school buildings or further repairs.

Jamaica Village School reopened for in-person classes last week. NewBrook Elementary is scheduled to do so on Oct. 26. Work is still underway at Townshend Elementary and L&G.

Patnaude said his group talks with Chris Medina, director of operations at Windham Central Supervisory Union, about issues and possible repairs. West River is one of the districts under Windham Central.

Cobb said that after Alliance completes its work, he will have access to a computer program to show any issues with the air. He called it “a huge asset for me.”

“Right now,” he said, “we don’t know until there’s a problem.”

For example, a teacher might contact him if heat is not working in a classroom. Patnaude said the program can provide alerts to Cobb when something goes wrong.

Four air handlers on the roof were next to be addressed. They were all working on Thursday, Cobb said.


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