School ventilation could spread COVID-19. Why aren’t we talking about it?

August 13, 2020
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Globe and Mail

Students go back to school in less than a month. While many boards have been focusing on reduced class sizes, personal protective equipment and hand-washing, one source of COVID-19 threat has been overlooked: the air.

There is growing concern that the virus can be transmitted through air over longer distances. This could have huge implications for how buildings – including schools – function. And to address the risk demands checking and upgrading ventilation systems. That’s a complex and expensive exercise in building science, made worse by the run-down state of many Canadian public schools.

It’s time to get started.

COVID-19 spreads most easily through what scientists call droplets. When an infected person breathes out, that air contains moisture that can carry viral particles to other people. But once those particles dry out, they can be aerosolized, hang in the air and travel long distances.

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