“Ignored mechanical ventilation. We are looking for a partner”

ANCONA – With August just beginning, talk of returning to school it may seem premature, but in reality this is the crucial month to organize a return on the benches to test variations Covid. With the first bell set to ring on September 14, there is no time to waste. Not surprisingly, the Higher Institute of Health – in collaboration with the Ministries of Health and Education and the Conference of Regions and Autonomous Provinces – has published the guidelines for “mitigation of Sars-CoV-2 infections in the school area by the year 2022-2023”.

A document that concerns elementary schools and upper secondary schools, and which takes into account the current spread of the infection, while considering further interventions that must be gradually modulated based on the risk assessment and the possible change in the epidemiological framework.

March against the government
Among the measures envisaged are the use of Ffp2 masks for school staff and students at risk of developing severe forms of Covid, ordinary (periodic) and extraordinary sanitation of the environments in the presence of one or more confirmed cases and frequent air changes. An approach that attracted criticism from the councilor for school building Francesco Baldelli, according to whom «the mountain gave birth to a mouse: the government and its structures lacked courage. We awaited guidelines for the dissemination of technical criteria for the use of mechanical ventilation in schools. Instead, we find ourselves a generic meaning or little more. In the document – Baldelli points the finger – there is no trace of specific indications or minimum requirements for the use of Vmc devices, but only a compendium of recommendations and invitations to use masks, hand washing, opening windows for air exchange, at intervals ». Not a small disappointment for Marche’s national leader in this project. “We are the first and only region

in Italy for having dealt with the issue of well-being in the classroom in a structured way – recalls the commissioner -. Two calls for tenders for municipalities and provinces, owners of the buildings, resources for 9 million euros, 2,250 systems to be installed in as many classrooms frequented by 34 thousand children. And it was possible to touch on the results of the Hume Foundation study, which showed how installing appropriately sized Vmc equipment in classrooms reduces the risk of infection by over 80%. The marches have led the way at the national level, but today – the bitter observation – we are still orphans of the guidelines needed to adopt the effective technology of VMC ».

The figures
The region has rejected the project in numbers, and has carried out the interventions in three separate tranches. The first – in 2021 – of 2 million euros financed 500 Vmc plants involving 62 schools and 7,750 students. Then again last year another, more extensive one was approved worth 4 million euros for 1000 implants. In this case, the institutes where mechanical ventilation technology was used were 124, with a total of 15,100 students involved. “These days – says Baldelli – we have published the decree for the third tranche of 3 million”, included in the 2022/2024 budget, which will finance 750 installations in 94 schools involving 11 thousand students. «We need a Marshall Plan for the school, using 1% of the NRP’s resources to equip the classrooms in Italy with Vmc systems.

The National Presidi Association has calculated that 2.4 billion euros would be necessary to equip the 40 thousand school buildings in the Vmc, but 2021 Dl Sostegni has only allocated 150 million, just over a tip – the outcome of the commissioner – which not only testifies to the lack attention to the schools, but also to the lack of vision for our future workshop ». In the meantime, the region has allocated another 50,000 euros to carry out a study on the effects of mechanical ventilation on the air quality in closed environments in the school environment: the effectiveness of this technology in relation to the spread of Covid was verified in the first monitoring phase .. it will subsequent analysis deals with the effects in terms of reduction of air pollution.

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