As pupils and staff return to schools, colleges and universities, the spotlight has been placed on air quality.
With parents, school staff and unions all recognising the need for improved ventilation as a vital first step to combat the spread of airborne viruses, such as COVID-19, The Department for Education has made provision for 300,000 CO2 monitors to alert staff when ventilation in classrooms is inadequate.
If, however, the process of identifying poorly ventilated areas is an essential first step, many experts claim it is also a step with certain limitations, especially in classrooms with low occupancy or those with a much larger volume, as this government study has found.
How can schools improve air quality?
Opening windows is a logical first step to improve ventilation; however, with the colder weather on the way, many see it as a short-term option at best.
Ozone disinfecting equipment has been touted as a potential option. While it is proven effective at deactivating viruses, many point out that such equipment requires specialist training to use safely, can cause irritation and is not an environmentally friendly solution.
Air conditioning and air cleaning represent the best solution for many educational premises. However, it must be noted that air conditioning units designed to bring in fresh air, as opposed to systems that simply circulate air, are the most effective choice.
Air cleaning can be performed by various means, delivering the versatility that such a wide range of educational establishments need. Some products on the market use ultraviolet technology. Some use HEPA filters where the air is drawn through the device and contaminants are safely removed.
The provision of CO2 monitors is a crucial move for these shared environments to establish the need for better ventilation and cleaner, safer air. Yet, the requirements and measures that schools, colleges and universities take to solve the issue long-term will vary wildly.
Working with a specialist provider to explore which options will work best for their own unique needs is the next critical step these establishments need to take.
With the constant battle to halt the spread of COVID-19 and a shocking 3.1m children in England alone attending schools in areas exceeding World Health Organisation toxicity limits, there has never been a more urgent time to do so.
If you would like to learn more about air filtration for schools, colleges and universities to make them healthy, safe and comfortable environments for learning, we’re here to help.