The Covid-19 pandemic is having far-reaching consequences on many aspects of our daily lives. The latest is the thorny issue of re-opening schools safely. Establishing the best way to protect pupils as they return to school has not been easy and this question remains hotly debated.
While legislators continue to discuss it, the return to the classrooms is already underway, but not all school buildings are able to offer adequate measures to guarantee sufficient protection during lessons. This has been highlighted by the AiCARR, AIAS and CNI; who have offered help and free guidance should it be required.
The importance of air-conditioning in schools
The three associations have drawn attention to how many buildings in Italy still do not have an adequate mechanical ventilation system. This factor severely limits the efficiency of the anti-Covid safety measures already set out by the government.
According to the latest studies in fact, it is the air-conditioning which plays a fundamental role in ‘cleaning’ internal environments and making them more comfortable. Introducing air from outside helps to improve the general hygiene, in order to better protect people’s health.
Despite that, it is not sufficient to open the windows regularly to ensure adequate air replenishment, as some people have suggested. Certified mechanical ventilation equipment is required, which is able to filter virus particles and air crowded rooms continuously.
It is essential to realise that schools are effectively places where people gather, where guaranteeing social distancing is almost impossible. The use of face masks and disinfectant products is not enough to protect students and staff during their normal activities.
Free support for all academic institutes
As well as reporting the problematic situation of Italy’s shortcomings in terms of air conditioning in school buildings (which had already been noted but never acted upon), AiCARR, AIAS and CNI have offered schools and relevant organisations their support, in order to find optimal solutions to improve the anti-Covid measures in schools.
According to representatives of AiCARR Journal (Italian Air conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Association), installing modern air conditioning equipment inside school buildings should be a top priority. The temporary solution of opening windows is not only ineffectual but also represents a problem in terms of energy efficiency (especially in the winter months).
The CNI (National Council of Engineers) provides further confirmation of how important air conditioning systems are in the fight against Covid-19, defining them as a determining factor in obtaining concrete results.
These are the main points of the ideas suggested by the three associations. Anyone requiring further information can refer to Zerosottozero (the well-known portal devoted to the HVAC world) which has published an interesting article (accessible via this link) which looks at this issue in more detail.
The crucial role in the fight against Covid-19 played by quality air conditioning systems has been widely demonstrated. Schools need to be updated sooner rather than later, via state contribution schemes, financing and initiatives such as those described above. Only in this way will the safety of students, teachers and other staff be guaranteed during this new school year.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith