Utrecht scientists are going to research the spread of the coronavirus in secondary schools. These places may pose a risk, according to UMC Utrecht, because many people are in small spaces with poor ventilation.
After the summer holidays, secondary schools and schools for secondary special education reopen fully. Since 1 July, students at school no longer have to keep a distance of 1.5 meters.
Although the coronavirus is mainly transmitted through coughing and sneezing, according to UMC Utrecht there are serious indications that this also occurs through aerosols. These are miniscule drops of moisture in the air, which are released when screaming, singing, talking and even breathing. UMC Utrecht will conduct research into this together with TU Delft, Erasmus MC and IRAS.
“Even people who have no symptoms or no symptoms can transmit the coronavirus. Aerosols remain in the air much longer than the larger cough or sneeze drops and they can spread further than 1.5 meters,” reports Patricia Bruijning, pediatrician. epidemiologist at UMC Utrecht.
Places where ventilation is poor can be a ‘hot spot’ for the spread of the virus. Young children are known to be less likely to transmit the virus, but this is less clear to adolescents.
“Secondary schools can pose a risk for the spread of COVID-19, but we do not yet know how big that risk is,” says Bruijning.
The lab is investigating how infectious aerosols can be and how aerosols behave in the air under different ventilation conditions. In addition, a sample of twenty secondary school students is used to map out the conditions of the indoor environment. This has to do, for example, with ventilation, classroom interiors, windows and the number of students. Air samples are also taken to monitor the presence of the virus in the school.