School ventilation: teachers don’t know the best way to open windows in cold weather


With the surge in school absenteeism in the UK due to covid-19 and the removal of classroom masking guidelines, many teachers do not know the best way to improve ventilation in winter temperatures.


| analysis

January 26, 2022

British elementary school

Chris Bull / Alamy S

Over 350,000 carbon dioxide monitors Distributed to schools in England However, poor communication about how to use monitors to control coronavirus infections has prevented coronavirus use and students are unnecessarily struggling in cold rooms.

about 1 million students in the UK I was absent from school on January 20th, as was the case with about 9% of teachers. So far, children under the age of 11 in the United Kingdom have been almost completely unvaccinated and are increasingly in need of mitigation measures such as ventilation. Especially because it is no longer necessary to wear a mask in the classroom.

That is CO2 The monitor is useful.They are How good is the ventilation in the room This is because when people inhale and exhale in poorly ventilated areas, gas accumulates over time. Rooms with high readings are poorly ventilated for the number of people in the room and can increase the risk of covid-19 infection.

But CO2 The monitor is only useful if it is properly deployed.Data provided by TeacherTapp – Daily Survey of British Teachers – New Scientist Teachers suggest that they have received various messages about the best way to use the device in cold weather and maximize ventilation in the classroom.

Approximately 16% of respondents said on January 20 that no guidance was given on this issue. Approximately 34% of the 7175 respondents said they were told to open all windows as wide as possible, and 18% said they were told to open windows slightly.

Shivering in the classroom

This turmoil left a lot of trouble in the January weather.Essex’s third grade teacher said New Scientist When she opened the window, the students were trembling, even though they were wearing coats.

“It was very cold on a cold day,” says a teacher at an elementary school in Northumberland. He says he hasn’t been given any advice on which person to pay attention to on the monitor.

CO2 Monitors often operate with traffic light systems.A green light indicates that the CO in the room is less than 800 parts per million (ppm).2 Ventilation is also good, such as in the atmosphere. Also, if the red light with readings above 1500 ppm goes out, the room is considered poorly ventilated.

Guidance from the UK Health and Safety Executive As for building ventilation, it generally suggests that windows and doors need to be opened when CO is generated.2 The monitor turns red. The UK Health and Security Agency It gives a more subtle note, suggesting that in cold weather you only need to open top-level windows. However, only 8% of Teacher Tapp respondents said they received this advice.

A Ministry of Education Blog It also suggests that the classroom windows are not very wide open in winter.Only general guidance issued by Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Echo exactly the advice given by Sean Fitzgerald At Cambridge University. “I want to open a few high-level windows,” says Fitzgerald, who co-founded a ventilation company based on his research. “This allows us to provide a sufficient level of fresh air to the universe while keeping the room from getting too cold,” he says.

According to a TeacherTapp survey, only 3% of teachers said they received this advice.

“If there are a lot of teachers who don’t know the best way to ventilate the classroom, this is the time we should tell them, as we are in the middle of winter,” says Fitzgerald.

Dealing with colds

Catherine Nokes The University of Leeds in the United Kingdom specializes in ventilation and airborne infections, stating that when it’s cold, windows need to be opened intermittently, such as every hour for 10 minutes. In addition, she says teachers need to rearrange the furniture so that the children are not sitting near the windows.

“You can also open the doors and windows wider during breaks to refresh the air in your room,” she says.

The big problem facing schools is that many windows, especially those at high altitudes, are closed and painted during the renovation. Fitzgerald says fixing these should be a priority.

Fitzgerald also says CO’s red reading2 Monitors aren’t necessarily bad. “Our modeling suggests that an average of 1500ppm per day is appropriate,” he says. This means that if you take enough action to prevent the level from rising, you don’t have to panic if the monitor shows a red reading.

For classrooms without windows or no ventilation at all, the British government has ordered 8,000 air purifiers to help remove coronavirus particles from the air, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Education.

“Schools across the country are reopening and staff are working hard to keep the settings open for face-to-face learning,” they said. “With a lot of testing, recruiting supply staff, and the efforts of schools and teachers, we are confident that our measures will maximize student classroom time.”

Delegated governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have distributed similar monitors to schools.

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School ventilation: teachers don’t know the best way to open windows in cold weather

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