Making schools safer for everyone
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/10/2021 (602 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With children in River Heights back in school, we are all concerned about their safety.
We all want to make sure they do not get the COVID-19 virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2. For children old enough to be vaccinated, getting vaccinated needs to be a priority. For those less than 12 years of age, other measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are needed, although it appears a vaccine may be available in the near future for those under 12.
There has been a lot of talk about the need to improve ventilation in schools as well as mask use. An evaluation of the effect of improving ventilation and wearing masks was done in schools in the U.S. state of Georgia and the findings from this study are helpful.
The study was done in November and December of 2020. This was a time before the appearance of the delta variant, but the findings nevertheless give us an indication of the importance of addressing ventilation in schools.
In this study, 169 schools were surveyed with respect to measures taken to address ventilation, and the measures taken were related to the number of COVID-19 cases in each school. The study also looked at the impact of mask use in schools.
Of the 169 schools, 123 reported making ventilation improvements. Schools which used “dilution” methods, such as opening doors, opening windows or using fans had a 35 per cent decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases. Schools which used “dilution” methods in combination with the installation of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters saw a 48 per cent reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases.
The use of masks by teachers and staff members was associated with a 37 per cent reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Overall, the study concluded:
“Preventing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools should be multifaceted. Mask requirement for teachers and staff and improved ventilation are important strategies that elementary schools could implement as part of a multi-component approach to provide safer, in-person learning environments until vaccines are available for children less than 12 years old.”
Ontario has already committed to ensuring every school without mechanical ventilation will receive portable HEPA filters in classrooms, gyms, libraries and other instructional spaces.
Too often we hear only of the public health requirements, without being provided the scientific evidence which supports these decisions. As your MLA, I believe it is helpful to learn of the studies which support measures which are, or should be, taken.
For those interested in reading the original report of this study, there is a link to the study available on my blog at www.jongerrardsreport.blogspot.com/2021/06/will-premier-get-prepared-for-fall-by.html
You will note, from this article, raised the issue of improving school ventilation in May.
I wish all students a safe and happy school year.
River Heights constituency report
Jon Gerrard is Liberal MLA for River Heights.