Study reveals inadequate ventilation in primary classrooms

November 9, 2021

Some 40% of primary school classrooms do not have an adequate ventilation rate to combat the spread of COVID-19, according to a recent study.

Research by Coventry University concluded that the area and volume of classrooms needs to be increased for students to remain at an “acceptable distance” from one another, while it also recommended user-friendly and safe windows designed at two different levels to allow both teachers and pupils to open and close them.

The research found problems with ventilation in classrooms were largely due teachers and pupils failing to open doors and windows regularly enough. It said this was linked to the different thresholds for temperature between adults and children – with adults essentially feeling colder than children.

Coventry University PhD student Sepideh Korsavi, under the supervision of Dr. Azadeh Montazami, observed occupant-related factors of 805 children in 32 naturally ventilated classrooms in UK primary schools during cold and warm seasons for the study.

 Inadequate indoor air quality

The results suggest that a classroom with high potential for natural ventilation does not necessarily provide adequate indoor air quality as that relies on teachers and pupils opening windows and doors.

The study also shows that around 15% of children are overheated during cold seasons as well as warm seasons and recommends increasing ventilation rates to help maintain air quality and a comfortable room temperature.

Dr. Azadeh Montazami, an indoor environmental quality expert at Coventry University and supervisor of the research project, said: “Teachers are mainly in charge of controlling the environment in classrooms and they open windows according to their own thermal threshold, which is higher than children’s. As most UK school classrooms are naturally ventilated, teachers should be informed about these differences and the consequence of their behaviour and be encouraged to open windows to reduce the risk of spreading COVID.”

Dr. Sepideh Korsavi, who is now a postdoctoral researcher on sustainable buildings at the University of Plymouth, said: “The area and volume of the classrooms need to be increased to occupy students with an acceptable distance. User-friendly and safe windows that are designed at two different levels for the height of both teachers and children can facilitate their window operations.

“Well-designed naturally ventilated schools that are operated effectively by school occupants can increase ventilation rates and reduce the risk of spreading COVID.”

Professor Dejan Mumovi of University College London also contributed to the study.


This is valid as of 9th November 2021.

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