Ventilation in schools in the summer months
June 3, 2021 – In the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a general rule, the use of standing fans or portable air conditioning units is not recommended, as these increase the risk of the spread of droplets and that could cause outbreaks.
Recommendations and measures to help comfort
- Drink often, without waiting to be thirsty. Bring a water bottle to school.
- Keep windows and doors open until 10 a.m.
- Close curtains or blinds when the sun is strong.
- During the day, it is recommended to ensure a supply of new air at least 3 times a day for a period of about 15 minutes.
- Encourage teaching outdoors on playgrounds or other areas in the shade or by using a sun shelter allowing the circulation of the cooling wind.
- When possible, keep lights and electrical appliances off during class.
- However, public health permits the use of standing fans or portable air conditioning units as a last resort when temperatures reach extreme levels and other preferred means are no longer sufficient to ensure the comfort of students and staff.
In all cases, it is essential to continue to diligently apply the health measures in force: wearing a mask, physical distancing, hand hygiene, cleaning of surfaces.
On January 8, 2021, the INSPQ released the report from the group of scientific and technical experts on the transmission of COVID-19 in schools and healthcare settings and on the role of ventilation. Based on this report we received, on January 13, 2021, new directives from the MEQ indicating that it is not recommended to use mobile filtration devices (or air purifiers) in schools, due to:
- Their effectiveness, not yet demonstrated to counter the transmission of diseases by aerosol;
- Their reduced efficiency in a large room (such as a classroom where sources of potentially infectious particles are dispersed or far from the device);
- The risk of inappropriate use (possible generation of airflow carrying aerosols);
- The noise they make could interfere with concentration.
The installation of such equipment can also generate a false sense of security. These devices are not able to counter the transmission of COVID-19 through close contact with an infected person, which is the main recognized mode of transmission.
On November 27, 2020, the ministère de l’Éducation (MEQ) issued a report on school boards’ indoor air quality management plans which includes aspects of housekeeping, preventive maintenance of ventilation equipment, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) management as well as their register for materials that may contain asbestos and radon. This report is based on documents that school boards have to file with the Ministry.
For Riverside School Board, however, a chain of unfortunate events linked to the electronic transmission of our documentations prevented our data from being included in the MEQ report. Please see the information below that should have been included in the MEQ’s report:
|% Progress on Housekeeping||% Progress on Ventilation||% Progress on Implementation |
of Electromechanical Maintenance Plan
|% Global Progress on Implementation of IAQ|
|% of Progress on |
Registered Material Likely to Contain asbestos
|% Progress on Radon Concentration Readings||% Progress on Installation of Cabon Monoxide Detectors|
Opening of windows
We would like to clarify our directives regarding the opening of windows in our schools. For schools that do not have mechanical ventilation, opening the windows is the best way to get fresh air into the classrooms. Material Resources sent recommendations to the schools as follows: Open windows for 15 minutes in the morning, at recess, lunch, afternoon recess, and at the end of the day when students are not in the class. However, please keep in mind that schools that have high windows, for teachers that also supervise recesses, for lunches that are taken in class, for rainy days, etc., it is possible that those directives cannot be followed to the letter, but Public Heath directives are always respected. Regardless, it is always better to open the windows during the day. Therefore, it could happen that windows are open when students are in class. We ask that students come to school with an extra layer, IN CASE windows need to be open when they are in class. Please know that our schools and teachers are doing their best for the students’ well-being.
We thank you for your understanding.
We would like to address the many questions and concerns that we received from parents regarding ventilation in our schools. Please find below the series of actions carried out in our establishments regarding ventilation. These procedures have been implemented since the beginning of the year in accordance with Public Health directives and recommendations from the INSPQ.
The vast majority of our Schools and Centres have windows that open so this is why we promote natural ventilation of the premises by opening them regularly (before class, during recess, during the lunch hour, or when students are attending gym classes, etc.). This practice is also the main recommendation of the INSPQ.
If classrooms have windows that do not open, it is because the school is equipped with a mechanical ventilation system. Please know that these systems are in good working order.
Monitoring of our Systems
Our Material Resources Team regularly monitors the condition of the ventilation systems in our Schools and Centres and performs ongoing maintenance. Notably, all ventilation system filters are regularly changed many times a year, surpassing the standards set by the manufacturers. In the context of the pandemic, not only are we continuing to monitor, but we have also extended the operating hours of the ventilation systems from operating them when the buildings are occupied to all the time (24/7) in order to promote the renewal of the air inside our buildings. In addition, we specifically check the mechanical components to ensure that the classrooms are well supplied.
In addition, you may have seen circulating in the media that the Ministry of Health plans to form a Panel of Experts that will include specialists from INSPQ and the Ministry of Health who will be making recommendations by the end of November, regarding, amongst other things, ventilation in schools. The recommendations from this Panel will be implemented in our communities, as will those already issued by INSPQ and Public Health.
We hope that these clarifications will ease concerns in regards to the ventilation in our Schools and Centres.
Our students’ and staff’s well-being is a priority.