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New study shows primary school classrooms too hot

School
File photo

Classroom temperatures in the island’s primary schools exceed the recommended maximum limit on most days, a survey on air quality in them showed on Wednesday.

The survey, by the Cyprus University of Technology (Tepak), also found that in one third of the measurements for particulate matter inside the classrooms, the value exceeded the recommended limit.

A total of 42 primary schools from all districts were included in the study, to assess indoor air quality in classrooms from May to July.

Using questionnaires, school/classroom characteristics were collected and special sensors measured the levels of environmental parameters, which were assessed for 24 or 48 hours in outdoor and indoor areas (two classes per school) in public primary schools in densely populated areas.

The study was conducted between May and July 2021, when specific Covid-19 protocols were in place for schools.

The results showed that during the period of sample collection, natural ventilation of the classrooms with open windows and doors during class hours helped to maintain the ventilation index (CO2) at acceptable levels.

However, they showed that “for most of the school day (85 per cent), the air temperature inside classrooms exceeded the recommended maximum limit (27C).”

Regarding the presence of particulate matter in the air, it noted that one third of PM2.5 measurements inside classrooms exceeded the recommended 15 µg/m3.

The research team reported that fans were present in 90 per cent of classrooms and on average 45-63 per cent of the total classroom fans were operating, usually after the first break.

An air conditioning unit was present in 11 per cent of the classrooms but average use during the school day was almost zero (0-0.1 per cent).

It is also reported that more than half of the classrooms (55 per cent) featured two doorways and 86-91 per cent of the doors in the classroom were open throughout the school day.

The average number of open windows in classrooms during the school day was four.

Further research is needed to better understand the dynamic interaction of environmental parameters in combination with health or transmission prevention indicators of viral and microbial transmission in the indoor school environment, taking into account both climate-responsive policies and health protocols,” the research team noted.

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