Friday , January 15 2021

COVID-19: air quality tests in all schools by mid-March

Quebec asks the school network to have completed air quality tests in all schools in the province by mid-March. The results should be made public.

• Read also: Deadlines of several weeks for air quality tests in classrooms

In a document sent on Tuesday, the Ministry of Education specifies that the operation must be carried out by March 15. The latest results must be sent by March 22 at the latest.

Not all classes will be tested. The service centers will have to proceed by “exhaustive sampling of each type of class for each school building”, we can read.

The ministry decided to proceed in the same way as in December – that is to say by asking the schools to “carefully select the classes tested so that they are representative of the whole school” – in order to to get an overview more quickly, said his spokesperson, Bryan St-Louis, in the evening Wednesday.

Representative sample

During the first sampling, which measured the air quality in 10% of schools in the province in December, four classes per establishment were then tested.

“Following discussions with public health, it was determined that a representative sample of classrooms in a school provides an accurate picture of the situation in each building,” added Mr. St-Louis.

The results must also be made public “without delay”.

If the CO measurements2 exceed the threshold deemed safe (1000 ppm), corrective measures must be made more or less quickly, depending on the seriousness of the situation.

Same methodology

The methodology that will be used to carry out these tests will also be the same as that used in December.

However, in recent days, experts have questioned this methodology, which provides that the CO2 level in a room is measured three times, including the first time before the start of lessons in the absence of students.

“This measure is perfectly ridiculous” since it contributes to lowering the average of the results obtained, launches Nancy Delagrave, scientific coordinator of the COVID-STOP collective.

The teachers’ unions also denounced the fact that the third measure was taken at the end of a lesson, after a period of opening of the windows of 20 minutes in the presence of the pupils, which is anything but a common practice in schools.

Mme Delagrave also deplores the delays surrounding the performance of these tests. “Looks like they’re not in an emergency situation,” she said.

However, to better manage the risks of contagion during a pandemic, it would be necessary to have “real-time data” concerning the air quality in the classroom, which could be obtained using a CO sensor.2 in every room, says this physicist.

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