“Ventilation systems are fundamental”. But they are only there for 5% of the students

Although we are in the middle of summer, between the energy crisis and the persistence of the pandemic, there is a decidedly polar winter shaping up for Italian students. It is actually clear from many sides the only way to significantly reduce the risk of infection in schools is to treat the air inside the classrooms.

It is a shame that this passage for over two years with the pandemic has proven to be one of the most complex to implement. Suffice it to say that based on a survey conducted by Skuola.net at the end of the just concluded school year, only 5% of the students in their class had an automatic system capable of constantly changing air or in any case to treat it in such a way as to prevent the transmission of the virus through the air. It is hard to imagine that for the resumption of the lessons, the picture will change a lot.

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The “alternatives” to the most advanced aeration systems

In almost all institutions, it is very likely that we will continue with the “manuscript” adopted when we finally returned to school in the present. What does it predict? Basically the use of classical natural methods. While in the summer or in the hottest months it is perfectly acceptable to think about always keeping the windows open, a little less in the fall or winter. But last year, in the coldest moments of the year, 40% of the students stated that the windows were open for almost the entire duration of the school day. IN 1 out of 2 casesinstead, it was chosen to open windows often, for example during time changes or during breaks. Dynamics that those who are easy to guess especially have in the winter exacerbated the phenomenon of “cold classrooms”., already well present in normal times, let alone with these new precautions. Perhaps for this reason, in some context (at least another 5% of young people said), it was decided to take risks by letting the windows close as much as possible.

The funds are there, but they are not enough

Yet everyone, primarily doctors and school leaders, agree that it is necessary to equip our classrooms with air conditioning and sanitation systems. So why can’t decisive steps be taken? We tried to summarize the story. Already at the beginning of last school year, the problem was clearly evident. Although it is actually the first Decree of supportapproved by the government in early 2021, determined for schools 150 million euros to be used specifically to deal with the health crisismake a quick calculation you realize how they funds they were totally inadequate for such a revolution.

According to estimates prepared by the National Association of Presidia (ANP), to equip a medium-sized institution with an efficient ventilation system, around 60 thousand euros would be needed. But according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Education’s School Building Register, there are about 40 thousand buildings currently “active” (between offices, branches, etc.) and used for school life. Which makes us understand mismatch between the funds allocated to the purpose and the number of beneficiaries. And that explains why only a small percentage of students last school year were able to take advantage of these systems.

Principals: “For schools only vague recommendations and indications”

Which confirms what has been claimed in recent days by the same representatives of school leaders. As he pointed out Cristina Costarelli, President of ANP Lazio and Head Lecturer at the “Newton” High School in Rome, “Absolutely nothing has been done about this issue in schools. Guidelines are expected from February, but there is still a deafening silence. So far, there are only recommendations that give vague indications. By making it clear how the situation in schools is in many ways the same as in that pre-pandemic period.

And, as if that were not enough, to further aggravate the situation, there is the age-old problem with the so-called “Chicken farm classes”, far from loose. Thus, at least as far as his institute is concerned, Costarelli expects “We will start again in September classrooms that reach more than 30 students, in spaces that cannot accommodate themwith a totally inadequate ventilation speech and the recommendation to open the windows, which so far is the only measure specified for air recirculation. “.

Doctors: “Aids left to themselves, we need guidelines”

In order to support the principals’ struggle, as mentioned, there are also large parts of the scientific community who, incidentally, not only repeat what they now know, but try to find possible “sustainable” solutions from an economic point of view. At this point in recent days Italian Society of Environmental Medicine (SIMA) which at the same time presupposes how “Despite the scientific evidence on how the virus is transmitted, on the subject of school in Italy something has stopped, or rather, we have never started on the right foot. There is a complete lack of guidelines for the type of efforts that can be carried out in institutes and on the most suitable technologies for any type of need, and the principals are left to themselves without a guide to orient themselves, with the state delegating all decisions to the individual schools in the name of the school self-governmenttried to find a way out.

As claimed by President of SIMA, Alessandro Miani the alternative is mechanized ventilation systems (VMC) of the airalready successfully used in the Marche region, (can be combined with both CO2 monitoring and tungsten trioxide decontamination devices), able to dilute biological pollutants in the air (especially viruses and bacteria) thanks to the introduction of new air pre-filtered from the outside and removal of internal old air “. But an excellent solution, according to SIMA, would be also air purifiers with high performance HEPA filters or with DFS (disinfection cleaning) filters for removing nanoparticlesthe so-called nanometric filtering of particles up to twenty times smaller than coronavirus, used in all major US school districts “.

The importance of monitoring the air quality in the classrooms

Miani also finally claims it the most important thingregardless of the system selected, remain “The continuous monitoring of CO2 in classrooms with scientifically validated smart traffic lighting devices (NDIR and PAS technologies), a reliable indirect indicator of the risk of contagious spread in the case of infected pupils or teachers, so much so that the probability of infection from COVID is reduced to less than 1% if optimal levels can be guaranteed of quality air in the classroom “.

The latter, he also points out Daniele Grassucci, director of Skuola.net “at least they would allow, at all, limited costs and certainly inferior to a sanitary or air treatment system, to know when the air in a classroom becomes saturated with carbon dioxide and therefore of viruses, in case of positive in the classroom without appropriate individual devices such as FFP2 masks. Invites to open windows only when there is a real need for it.

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