Covid and the school, the (longest) expected guidelines disappoint: no green light for ventilation

The government’s guidelines, expected from March, have not dispelled doubts about the need to equip classrooms with ventilation systems to stop Covid-19 infection: not only do they not rule out the simultaneous need for masks, but leave the burden of the decision to principals. Our newsstand special

The next will most likely be the third school year in a row with the pandemic, but without ventilation and ventilation systems. Until a few weeks ago, we could have hoped that the government’s guidelines on the subject would (finally) give the green light to the installation of these systems in schools, but now that the document – prepared by the National Center for Chemicals, Cosmetic Products and Consumer Protection, from the Department of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Environment and Health at the Higher Institute of Health – there is doubt.

In fact, the guidelines do not assume that installation only of these systems is sufficient to stop the infection in school classes: several places in the document state that the ventilation devices do not replace standard safety tools (frames and spaces).

A prediction that certainly does not like the Ministry of Education, which would risk facing an important expense without solving the problem. As Lorenzo Misuraca writes in the pages of Salvagente, which you can find in newsagents and online here, “the estimate for equipping all classes is 500 million euros. Think that 400 million has been spent on replacing Lims with touchscreen TV. For not to mention benches on wheels “.

The second point concerns the commitment of managers: the monitoring and selection of the most appropriate equipment is in fact delegated to the principals, which for them would constitute an additional tightening of duties, therefore, asks the ministry to “identify individuals in the health sector who can support them”. An obligation that the principals may not agree to assume.

Does the ventilation system work against Covid-19?

In addition to the regulatory forecasts, one may ask oneself whether the expense is actually worth the business or whether the ventilation systems are really capable of stopping the coronavirus infection. One response comes from a recent study by Sa Raffaele Hospital in Milan. The institute measured the spread of droplets emitted during dental treatments, which remain suspended in the air in the operating area for a long time. The surveys were conducted before and afterturn on a cleaner with Hepa 14 filter, placed at a distance of 50 centimeters from the chair, and involved 80 clinical procedures. The study documented the machinery’s ability to filter ultra-thin particles (smaller in diameter than coronavirus) and thus significantly limit viral spread. The aerosol of even saliva droplets in the air was reduced by more than 80% during oral surgery. Furthermore, a significant reduction in the microbiological load of between 63% and 67% was found. For the research, conducted on behalf of Professor Enrico Gherlone, head of the department and rector of the university, Innoliving professional cleaning devices were used, which for closed residential environments promise to reach 99.995% of the particles in the air.

Ventilation or ventilation?

Air and ventilation systems are not the same and one is not as good as the other (especially in school), as explained to Salvagente by Massimiliano Lo Iacono, who in addition to being a teacher, is an engineering expert in indoor air quality (the one his interview is part of the cover of the July issue of Salvagente dedicated to air purifiers). According to engineer Lo Iacono, however, it would be appropriate to invest in controlled mechanical ventilation systems rather than in treatment plants: “Apart from the fact that many cleaners are needed to be able to clean the air in a classroom with 20-30 children, therefore there would be a insane electricity consumption. In addition, they would make noise and would not solve a particular problem, which is stale air. Because it is always the same thing that is cleaned and put back into the environment. Carbon dioxide rises “. On the contrary, the machine with controlled ventilation systems the heat from the indoor air to prevent it from penetrating directly in the cold in winter or hot in the summer, and releasing it into the room after also being filtered from any external pollutants such as particles. the election is the worst thing our country can do to keep postponing it.

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