Utrecht scientists will conduct research into the spread of corona in secondary schools. These places may pose a risk, according to UMC Utrecht, because many people are in small spaces with poor ventilation.
Since 1 July, pupils at school no longer have to keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other and after the summer holidays, secondary schools and schools for secondary special education will reopen completely. Many school environments can accommodate large numbers of students in closely spaced classrooms, while ventilation is often not optimal.
Although the coronavirus, like other viruses that cause respiratory infections, is mainly transmitted through coughing and sneezing, according to UMC Utrecht there are serious indications that this also happens via so-called 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.
Patricia Bruijning, pediatrician epidemiologist at UMC Utrecht: “People who have no symptoms or no symptoms yet can also transmit the corona virus. Aerosols remain in the air for much longer than the larger cough or sneeze drops and can spread further than five feet. ”
For example, 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. Patricia: “High schools can pose a risk for the spread of COVID-19, but we don’t know yet how big that risk is.”
First, the lab will investigate how contagious aerosols can be and how these aerosols behave in the air under different ventilation conditions. At the same time, the conditions of the indoor environment (ventilation, air conditioning, heating, classroom interior, number of pupils, outside windows, etc.) will be mapped out of a sample of twenty secondary schools. Air samples are also taken to monitor the presence of the virus in the school.