Does your child have school ventilation?

More than two years after the epidemic, ventilation and air quality in Quebec schools continue to be a problem. According to the analysis of the data obtained by Duty Under the Access to Information Act, almost half of Quebec’s government primary and secondary school buildings are not mechanically ventilated.

As a result, 45% of organizations must use “natural” ventilation, meaning they do not have a mechanical system to open windows, according to the Ministry of Education’s construction phase data. Adding buildings where the ventilation system is only partial যখন when one part of the building is mechanically ventilated and the other is not সেখানে there are 61% of primary and secondary schools that are not fully serviced by mechanical ventilation.

However, according to expert advice, the best way to mechanically ventilate a school is to better control the parameters of the air exchange. Duty. That’s why new schools have been built with mechanical ventilation, said Manuel Croft, a building mechanical engineer and a member of the Covid-Stop group.

“It’s much easier because you can use the control system to manage the ventilation so that it is active during capture and can adapt to the needs of the users,” he said.

Conversely, it is difficult to ensure an uninterrupted supply of fresh air by relying solely on window openings, especially due to winds that change direction and speed year after year, argues Stephen Bilodo, an engineer and air quality expert. Member of the COVID-STOP group.

“On some days of the year, natural ventilation may be sufficient, but it will not be sufficient to provide fresh air for most of the year. Maybe [le vent] It will not even be in the right direction, meaning we will carry air to the other class from the inside without air from outside. [vers l’intérieur] “, He said.

For its part, the Ministry of Education has confirmed that “the buildings have been constructed [dans les années 1960 et 1970] Designed to promote natural ventilation through building orientation, use of skylights, corridor design, etc. “

However, the difficulties of natural ventilation for Manuel Croft go beyond air quality. Her children, who attended a naturally ventilated school during the epidemic, said their concern was not so much about the type of ventilation as the responsibility of school staff.

“This is a problem with natural ventilation. The mental burden of ventilation rests on the shoulders of people who already have high mental load. […] When we are in the heat of our learning activities, we are not necessarily sensitive to the fact that it has been a long time since we opened the window, “he underlined.

For his part, Stephen Perron, a health and environmental medicine specialist at the National Institutes of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ), believes that the two ventilation systems can be just as effective if they are well maintained and “optimized”.

“There is also the complexity of mechanical ventilation. It needs to be well maintained. Theoretically, we think it could be higher [à la ventilation naturelle]But in reality, it is not always so clear, “he added.

The Ministry of Education has specified in this regard There is By calculating the type of ventilation according to the surface of primary and secondary buildings, 67.4% of the surfaces will be mechanically ventilated.

Air quality is not guaranteed

A mechanically ventilated school is not necessarily synonymous with good air quality. CO reader2 The supply of teachers during the epidemic has made it possible to measure significant differences in measurements within the same school, D condemnsD Mary-Michel Roller, Internal Medicine Specialist and COVID-STOP Group Coordinator.

“Schools that had mechanical ventilation, [le taux de CO2] Was completely variable from class to class. The same school had CO level2 Some classes were impeccable and others where for some reason the numbers were too high. A

This is the case with Cindy (fictional name), a high school teacher in the Lanaudier region. Fear of retaliation from the employer whose identity has been protected There is That, despite the mechanical ventilation that works in its installation, abnormal levels of CO have been observed in many premises.2. Many of these classrooms do not even have a ventilation window on the premises.

“All we were told was to open the door. […] But if the door is open, nothing happens, ”he said sarcastically.

If Cindy regrets that “poor ventilation” and heat have a detrimental effect on student concentration as well as teachers’ energy levels, she specifically condemns the “lack of coherence” in file management. “Since we are mechanically ventilated, we are considered ‘OK.’ We do annual interviews. [du système], But there are no plans to improve it. A

Summer job?

The teacher claimed that he had not received any news regarding work or relief measures for the next school year. Although the summer holidays are the ideal time to visit construction sites, many speakers, such as Sylvain Mallett, president of the Autonomous Federation of Education, have claimed.

“We know that the virus spreads less when it is hot. The rate of infection has always been low during the summer, but the same questions will arise in the autumn when the cold weather will start again and we will have to close our windows, ”he lamented. Mr. Mallett is requesting to reduce the threshold of “acceptable” concentration of CO2 1500 ppm to 1000 ppm, as well as resumption of COVID-19 outbreak monitoring.

DD Mary-Michelle Ballon, the coveted-stop collective, hopes to see concrete arrangements in anticipation of the fall. “During the summer performances, the students are not there. Also, if we look at what is happening in Portugal and Great Britain, there is a new wave coming, ”he believes.

For its part, the Ministère de l’Education du Québec (MEQ) confirms that There is That “all CSS [centres de services scolaires] And CS [commissions scolaires] There are projects, completed or planned, related to indoor air quality in their building ”.

CSS and CS plan to invest $ 225 million in ventilation in 2022, MEQ says.

Even if children are less likely to develop severe symptoms of Covid-19 in general, they can spread the virus to people around them, recalls Benoit Barbeau, a professor of virology at UQAM’s biology department.

“If your ventilation system is not adequate and you are unable to do so [d’assurer] A good change of air, it is sure that your risk of infection is pronounced. And this resistance applies to all other respiratory viruses, he underlines.

For engineer Stephen Billodo, tackling the “air quality problem” is essential, and especially in a naturally ventilated classroom. “Temporarily, it’s better to keep the windows open, because sometimes it will help. It’s better than doing nothing, but it’s not a long-term solution. It’s a Plaster “In Bobo,” he concluded.

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