COVID-19: Schools urgently need guidelines on improving ventilation in classrooms

February 05, 2021

There is an urgent need for guidelines on how schools can use ventilation to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the classroom, according to doctors at Imperial College London and the headteacher of a secondary school in Pinner, Middlesex. In a commentary published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the authors say that improving air quality in classroom spaces should be as important as following government advice regarding social distancing, mask-wearing and hand washing.

The authors point to lessons from the airline industry, where the risk of contracting COVID-19 on a flight is currently lower than from an office building or a classroom. Lead author Dr Kaveh Asanati, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer in occupational lung disease at the National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College London, said: "The multi-layer risk reduction strategy used in the aviation industry seems to have been working efficiently. The strategy includes testing passengers, the use of face coverings or masks, hygiene measures and, more importantly, maintaining clean air by circulating a mix of fresh air and recycled air through High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters."

Few school buildings have HEPA filtration but a potential practical option for schools would, according to the authors, be the use of portable HEPA filtration units. They say that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for healthcare workers during COVID-19 pandemic to consider the addition of these units to augment air quality in areas when permanent air-handling systems are not a feasible option. The authors go on to describe a study in a hospital room of COVID-19 patients, where the researchers were able to detect SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols, only when they used the air samplers without a HEPA filter on the inlet tube.

Dr Asanati said: "To keep schools open, there is an urgent need to implement more effective on-site mitigation strategies, with particular attention to ventilation and testing. In addition, it is essential that teachers and other school staff should be added to the priority list for vaccination."

The authors say a feasibility study of implementing better ventilation and filtration systems in schools is needed, as well as some pilot work and research involving indoor air quality and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) experts. Until then, they write, keeping doors and windows open - for as much as is reasonably practicable - seems to be the best way forward.
-end-


SAGE

Related Classroom Articles from Brightsurf:

Does classroom indoor environmental quality affect teaching and learning?
What impact does a classroom's indoor environment have on teaching, learning, and students' academic achievement in colleges and universities?

The arrival of the laptop in the classroom and parental mediation
A study by Carme Bach, a lecturer with the Department of Translation and Language Sciences at UPF, and Cristina Aliagas, a lecturer with the Faculty of Education at the UAB, both members of the GR@EL research group.

Praise, rather than punish, to see up to 30% greater focus in the classroom
To improve behavior in class, teachers should focus on praising children for good behavior, rather than telling them off for being disruptive, according to a new study published in Educational Psychology.

Rethinking the role of technology in the classroom
Introducing tablets and laptops to the classroom has certain educational virtues, according to Annahita Ball, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, but her research suggests that tech has its limitations as well.

Classroom crowdscience: UC students challenged to detect schizophrenia genes
Teaching big data to future scientists means having them think creatively about ways to harness the terabytes of information available to them.

What was effect of offering breakfast in the classroom on obesity?
Offering breakfast in the classroom at some Philadelphia public schools did not affect the proportion of students developing overweight and obesity, when examined as a combined measure, after 2.5 years.

Classroom friendships may offset effects of punitive parents
A study by researchers at UC San Francisco has confirmed the link between Harsh Parenting to Defiance andNoncompliance in Kids and found that kindergarten may provide a unique opportunity for these harshly parented children to retool negative behavior.

Flipped classroom enhances learning outcomes in medical certificate education
The quality of medical certificates written by students of medicine was better when they were taught by using the flipped classroom approach instead of traditional lecturing.

Celebrating positives improves classroom behavior and mental health
Training teachers to focus their attention on positive conduct and to avoid jumping to correct minor disruption improves child behavior, concentration and mental health.

Strategic classroom intervention can make big difference for autism students
Special training for teachers may mean big results for students with autism spectrum disorder, according to Florida State University and Emory University researchers.

Read More: Classroom News and Classroom Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.