In full coronation times, there is good news: on 1 September 2020, all pupils can go back to school. But there is also less good news. 239 renowned professors and researchers from all over the world report in an open letter that Covid-19 may well spread by air.lden in een open brief dat Covid-19 zich weldegelijk via de lucht kan verspreiden.
It was a relieved Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts who announced that the schools will reopen on 1 September. Nevertheless, all those involved – teachers, pupils and their parents, school boards – have a lot of questions. “Is it safe to send my child to school?”, the parents wonder. “Is it safe to teach in a full classroom?”, the teachers say. Even the decision-makers admit that there are still doubts. Minister Weyts, for example, said in the VRT newsreel that there are “risks involved” in this scenario. Infectiologist Erika Vlieghe stated that she is “happy for all children that the schools are reopening”, but also that she is “concerned” about this. She added: “We are not worried that children will get seriously ill. We are worried that young people might bring the virus home with them and infect their parents and family”.
These concerns are fuelled by an open letter written by 239 researchers and professors from renowned universities and research centres around the world. Recent studies on Covid-19 have shown that the virus can spread through the air via aerosols (micro-droplets) or by clinging to larger (dust) particles (e.g. CO2). The more air is polluted, the longer the virus can survive and the easier it can spread.
The big question in this whole story is therefore: are our schools ready to receive all those pupils again starting on 1 September? We are not just talking about the organisational part. At least as important is the question whether the infrastructure of our schools is ready for a collective start-up.
The 239 worried scientists warn that “allowing people to meet again in indoor spaces without explicitly considering the importance of good ventilation poses a high risk of corona contamination”. We are thinking of education, but this warning applies equally to industry where people often work in crowded rooms.
So, with good ventilation we can prevent a lot of problems. But are our school buildings well equipped in this respect? In the Netherlands, a quarter of the schools do not have a well-functioning ventilation system. Many school buildings in our country date back to the last century. Good ventilation was certainly not high on the list of priorities at that time.
Air quality monitoring
Is there, then, cause for panic? Not at all. By paying extra attention to air quality, we can significantly reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading. In that respect, it is important to focus on proper operation and frequent maintenance of the HVAC installation. You can call upon a specialised company for this. If there is no installation in your building, it is even more important to monitor the air quality in a different way.
Research has shown that three variables play a crucial role in this: CO2 level, air humidity and air temperature. If we keep these factors within certain limits – humidity of 40 to 60%, CO2 levels below 800ppm and temperatures between 19 and 24°C – we create conditions in which the Covid-19 virus does not thrive.
A device to measure these indicators needs not be expensive at all. A good example is the Clean’Sence Smart of Maintenance Masters. You can buy this device for € 95 apiece. The only additional cost is a subscription of € 12 per month for the monitoring of as many as 20 measuring devices, i.e. 20 classrooms. In short, a small investment that ensures that you will soon be able to open your doors to your students or employees with peace of mind.
Do you doubt whether your building is ready for the big restart? Would you like to have your HVAC installation checked? Would you like to better monitor the air quality in your classrooms? Contact Maintenance Masters via telephone number +32 3 644 55 55 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.