COVID-19 study: School ventilation systems may play a role in stopping the spread of the coronavirus

MINNEAPOLIS – As more schools in the US delay reopening or opt for online learning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, new simulation shows how coronavirus could spread in the classroom and what it can do to prevent it.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota, who study the spread of the coronavirus, focused on the placement of ventilation units, desks, and people.

They demonstrated two simulated classrooms. The first had the teacher directly below the ventilation system. The second showed the ventilation system in the back of the room.

The scenario assumes that the teacher is an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19.

When the simulation begins, the particles move around the classroom, the virus spreads significantly less in the classroom where the teacher is directly under the vent. Red areas indicated hot areas where the virus could be collected. In the simulation, the classroom where the teacher and the vent were on opposite sides seemed all red.

The virus was much more contained in the simulation in which the teacher was under the vent, according to the study.

“What we found is really the design of the ventilation, especially the position of the ventilation with respect to people that makes a big difference,” said Jiarong Hong, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota.

But there are two important caveats, the study assumes that the teacher, not a student, is the infected. It also doesn’t take into account what happens when you wear a mask.

“If we think about best practices like wearing masks, social distancing, adequate ventilation, but also designing a classroom with respect to that ventilation, I think we will have the best opportunity to reduce transmission,” said Dr. John Brownstein . , an epidemiologist and contributor to ABC News, told Good Morning America.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is also promoting eye protection as another possible tool to fight the virus.

“If you have glasses or an eye shield, you should wear it,” the nation’s leading infectious disease expert told ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton during an Instagram Live conversation on ABC News .

He noted that glasses and eye or face shields “are not universally recommended” at the moment, “but if you really want to be complete, you should probably wear it if you can.”

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