Advice on how schools should manage COVID can change quickly depending on the seasons and outbreaks. In the first instance, please take look at the government’s coronavirus page, which can be found here.
In terms of air pollution, COVID has added another worry to what is already circulating in the air at school, whether that be external pollutants from cars and industry, internal pollutants like dust and chemicals or even just other seasonal illnesses.
It is also airborne, just like these other air pollutants, so the one benefit of focusing on measures to stop COVID circulating around schools – measures which in effect clean the air – is that they will also help clean the air of other pollutants too.
The main measure that schools can take beyond encouraging vaccination and mask-wearing is to improve ventilation so the virus does not stay in the air and get inhaled.
Open classroom windows often – for as long as possible in between lessons, and also during playtimes and lunchtimes. One of the key routes of possible infection with COVID-19 is through the inhalation of the virus through the air. Government guidance is clear that despite the removal of COVID-19 restrictions, ventilation is still a key mitigation against transmission of COVID-19 and similar respiratory viruses and all schools should continue to maximise ventilation.
Teachers can help this process by placing a child safe fan near the classroom door, facing out of the room, which will help drag the fresh air through a room after opening the window.
Many schools received CO2 monitors from the government during the peak of the pandemic. Check the airflow in each room using the monitor and check what variations in the classroom management and layout (e.g. keeping the window or door open) make a difference.
CO2 values indicate the following:
- 450 to 800 PPM – the room is well ventilated
- 800 to 1200 PPM – the room is poorly ventilated and crowded. Long-term exposure may impair concentration, among other things. Ventilation is required
- 1200 to 2000 PPM – due to the large amount of CO2, the brain will receive less oxygen than desired. Where CO2 levels are above 1200 PPM, the air will be stuffy and complaints such as fatigue, drowsiness, loss of concentration, headaches, worsening of allergies and spreading of viral infections can be experienced
CoSchools have a website to explain how CO2 monitors can help teachers manage their classroom ventilation to provide a more comfortable and healthier learning environment.