Bad ventilation in schools could increase risk of contracting Covid-19

Bad ventilation in schools could increase risk of contracting Covid-19
Credit: Pikist

Flemish schools are often not sufficiently ventilated, which increases the chances of contracting Covid -19 among classmates in the new school year, according to Jelle Laverge, professor of building physics at the University of Ghent.

“At the start of the pandemic, it was assumed that the infection route via aerosols was limited,” Laverge told Belgian Radio 1. “But more and more emerging cases are now showing that there is very likely a high risk of passing on the virus via air. For small and busy spaces, such as classrooms, that risk only increases.”

“What is important, is getting fresh air in from outside,” Laverge said, adding that opening the windows during class time could make a big difference.

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Other options include not using non-ventilated classrooms, installing a complete ventilation system in schools, or considering “local options in or above a window. There are also ventilation systems that specifically take aerosols out of the air,” he said.

Laverge’s remarks come 10 days before the start of the new school year on 1 September. Following his assessment, schools will have around two to three months to adapt their facilities before cold temperatures will make it impossible to simply leave all windows open throughout the day.

On Thursday, Belgium’s National Security Council announced that pupils will be returning to school full-time starting September. For students over 12 years old and teachers, a face mask will remain compulsory.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times

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