Wear jumpers to stop Covid in schools, say scientists

A government adviser and experts on the Independent Sage committee say extra jumpers and open windows may be needed in fight against virus
4th September 2020, 1:30pm


Wear jumpers to stop Covid in schools, say scientists

Wear Jumpers To Stop Covid

Experts have called for teachers and pupils to wear extra layers in the winter months so schools can be fully ventilated to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

A new report by the Independent Sage committee, chaired by former chief scientific adviser Sir David King, has called for “systematic monitoring of ventilation [in schools], particularly as the weather gets colder and opening windows will be impractical”.

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Professor Susan Michie, who participates on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) as well as sitting on the Independent Sage committee, told Tes: “The feedback we’ve had so far is that in a lot of schools the windows don’t open and so there’s very little possibility of good ventilation, so obviously the better the ventilation, then the less distancing one needs.

“But it depends on how big the rooms are - classrooms vary, schools vary a lot in terms of the type of buildings they have and how big the spaces are, but you have to start from first principles of not allowing the virus to get from one person to another, which means distancing and ventilation.”

Professor Michie, a behavioural psychologist at University College London, added that pupils might need to wear extra jumpers as the weather got colder so windows could be kept open, while schools might need additional funding to ensure windows painted closed could be reopened.

“What we know is the vast majority of transmission takes place indoors, hardly any takes place outdoors, so as much as possible it’s got to replicate that and get as much ventilation in. So that means using every method one can, whether that’s skylights or leaving the doors open where windows can’t be opened,” she said.

“I’d also say it would be a good idea when windows are painted in that local authorities are being given a budget so that schools can unstick their windows and get ventilation in where they can.”

“Also, we must think about children coming back as teaching moments…and that does mean children coming in with more jumpers. I was brought up in Edinburgh - we had no central heating and we used to wear two or three jumpers in the winter.”

The report has also called for additional teachers in schools to improve social distancing, using volunteers brought out of retirement, as well as the use of smaller class sizes.

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