However, the problem is not the design of the buildings or the way they are built – it is the teachers’ fault.
A research team at Coventry University has found that primary schools are often poorly ventilated because teachers don’t want to open windows or doors regularly enough. The research found that this correlates with the different thresholds for temperature between adults and children – with adults mainly feeling colder than children.
Coventry University PhD student Sebed Corsavi, under the supervision of Dr Azadeh Tanzami, observed occupant factors for 805 children in 32 well-ventilated classrooms in UK primary schools during cold and warm seasons, and found that 40% of classrooms failed to provide ventilation suitable rate.
Study results indicate that classrooms with a high potential for natural ventilation do not necessarily provide adequate indoor air quality because it depends on teachers (or pupils) to open windows and doors.
Dr. Azadeh Tanzami, an indoor environmental quality expert at Coventry University and supervisor of the research project, said: “Teachers are primarily responsible for controlling the environment in the classroom and they open windows according to their temperature threshold, which is higher than that of children. Since most of the classrooms in UK schools are normally well ventilated, teachers should be informed of these differences and the consequences of their behavior and encouraged to open windows to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.”
Dr. Sepideh Korsavi, now a postdoctoral researcher in sustainable buildings at the University of Plymouth, said: “The space and size of classrooms must be increased to occupy students with an acceptable distance. Safe and easy-to-use windows designed at two different heights for both teachers and children can facilitate their window operations.” Well-designed, naturally ventilated schools that are effectively operated by school occupants can increase ventilation rates and reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading.”
The recommendation supports recent guidance from the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) that good ventilation is essential to reduce occupant exposure to airborne pathogens, including Covid-19, in buildings.