Covid-19: Quarter of Dutch schools don't have proper ventilation
About a quarter of Dutch schools do not have proper ventilation, which could promote the spread of the coronavirus, according to research at the Eindhoven University of Technology. With some secondary schools reopening in two weeks, the researchers are concerned. "With corona, good ventilation is of great importance," installations professor Wim Zeiler said to AD.
While public health institute RIVM still says that there is no conclusive evidence that the coronavirus can spread through aerosols - small droplets released when people speak or breathe that can linger for hours in an unventilated room - more and more experts believe that aerosols play a role in the spread of the virus.
Many school buildings in the Netherlands have outdated ventilation systems, which means that the windows need to be opened for fresh air. And while that works fine in the summer, the upcoming winter is a concern. After the summer, pupils in secondary school will no longer have to maintain social distancing. This in combination with poor ventilation, could result in the coronavirus spreading, Daniel Bonn, professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, said ot the newspaper.
"If there's anywhere that a lot of people come together, it is at secondary school," Bonn said. "Young people may get less sick, but they can infect older people." He recommends hanging aerosol meters in classrooms, and that teachers and pupils avoid speaking loudly or singing. "Whispering would be better."
According to the newspaper, schools are struggling to get information about what to do with their ventilation from the RIVM - something the public health institute itself confirmed. "For us that is not an issue at the moment," a RIVM spokesperson said to AD. The Ministry of Education said: "The [Outbreak Management Team] has not set any conditions for ventilation when schools are reopened."