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Clean air in schools – how effective is your ventilation system?

Clean air in schools - how effective is your ventilation system?

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we, as a country, were largely unprepared for changes to our air quality, not least in our schools. With many of our educational establishments sorely underfunded and 1 in 6 in need of “immediate restoration work”, it’s unsurprising to learn that these buildings weren’t equipped to deal with an airborne virus.

School settings have seen some of the highest infection rates, predominantly due to the combination of close proximity and poor ventilation. And although children have largely been in the lowest risk category for detrimental COVID symptoms, that’s of little relief to the vulnerable family members they share a home with.

With the “new normal” expected to bring variant strains of the virus – not its complete eradication – perhaps it’s time we take a look at how we could better equip our school buildings to protect the students and teachers who spend such long periods of time inside their walls.

How COVID-19 is impacting UK schools

Last winter was perhaps one of the hardest on schools in the UK. The break in pandemic protocol meant students were expected to attend class, but scientific research also guided the government to announce that adequate ventilation must be maintained. In a modern school building, this would mean activating the central HVAC unit to circulate and filter the air going into each class. However, in the vast majority of UK schools, it meant opening doors and windows in the depths of winter.

The newspapers were filled with stories of children whose hands were cracked and bleeding from the combination of alcohol-rich hand sanitiser and cold winter air. Students reported wearing their coats and hats inside to keep warm – all in the name of ventilation.

The latest HSE advice is that classrooms should keep C02 levels below 800ppm and air be “purged” between lessons by fully opening doors and windows, but this simply isn’t a practical or sustainable way to combat viral infection.

The impact of inefficient ventilation systems

With the relaxation of COVID isolation rules pending, schools are back to business as usual, with none of the class-wide isolation we’ve seen over the previous two years. It stands to reason that with reduced isolation comes an increased risk of spread, which is why it’s more important than ever to circulate clean, filtered air in indoor environments.

The physical effects of the Omicron virus aside, schools have long been a breeding ground for germs. As many parents have declared, “My kids’ school can’t control a breakout of headlice, what chance do they stand against a virus”? And while effective ventilation won’t reduce itchy heads in the classroom, it can reduce the impact of seasonal bugs and viruses.

A report by the World Health Organization states, “The design of proper, general ventilation systems can play an important role in preventing the spread of infections… Paying more attention to ventilation requirements in these common, non-isolation spaces could lead to significant infection-control benefits.”

Retrofitting classroom ventilation in schools

From start to finish, Transcool Systems can take care of all elements of installing or upgrading your ventilation system. From the initial consultation and design, to the manufacturing and installation of your custom air handling system, we pride ourselves on our ability to meet tight budgets and timescales.

Installing an air handling unit within a school is a significant undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be stressful – our team members are experts at minimising disruption. By commissioning a complete analysis of your site, we can design a system that meets your needs and schedule the project for a suitable time of year. We can also work with older systems, updating them to offer better performance and usability.

Transcool Systems is a leader in the installation of bespoke air handling units. A few of the reasons our clients choose to work with us are:

  • We reduce on-site installation costs as the system is manufactured to order
  • We employ controlled Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) and load testing
  • We undertake enhanced quality control
  • We prioritise health and safety due to bespoke design reducing lifting and site handling requirements

Transcool air handling systems

At Transcool Systems, we specialise in creating custom air handling units, silencers, acoustic lining, and fan boxes. By custom building these systems to suit your premises, it allows us to account for any site restrictions and ensures the fan and filtration specifications fulfil your installation needs.

Our systems are easy to manage, offering you ongoing control over your premises’ ventilation and air quality. Along with our ongoing maintenance service and integrated control panels, our air filtration units include filter monitoring and come fitted with an integral drip tray and drain hose as standard, allowing for the effective, automatic removal of separated water.

Breathe easy, with Transcool Systems. Contact us today to arrange an obligation-free consultation.