Kids should bundle up for winter classes

City to spend €1m on CO₂ devices to monitor ventilation while experts say filters may be the answer.

You can have iced tea in class in Germany? I was cheated.
You can have iced tea in class in Germany? I was cheated.Uli Deck/dpa

Berlin-Schoolchildren should return from fall vacation not only well-rested, but also dressed in thick layers. The education department's plans to keep kids safe from corona include airing out classrooms several times a day – before and after each lesson, during every break and at least once midway through each lesson for three to five minutes.

The plans also recommend teachers take into account their students' cold sensitivity when drawing up seating charts.

But the city is also considering other measures to ensure the aerosol level in classrooms remains low rather than just random lüften (airing out). Berlin said it would spend €1m on  CO₂ monitors, which can give an indication of how little fresh air is being circulated. If rooms aren't well-ventilated, corona viruses may be gathering in the air.

Although not every class will get its own monitor, they will be available for temporary use so educators can get a feel for when windows should be opened. 

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In addition to monitors, the city is also considering high-performance air filters. The education department has already installed them at three schools in different areas as a test.

"Some of the filters apparently hum as loud as old refrigerators. High maintenance costs can also arise with cheap equipment. And if you they aren't maintained, you end up with the opposite effect: the filters suddenly become virus spreaders," Berlin's education minister Sandra Scheeres said last week while presenting the city's education corona plan.   

Scientists recommend high-quality equipment with high-performance HEPA filters (HEPA filter H13 or H14) but devices with sufficient air flow cost at least €400. Many school support associations are now considering purchasing the filters themselves.

Karl Lauterbach, health expert for the centre-left SPD, is also in favour of air filters in schools: "It will no longer be possible during the winter to achieve the amount of ventilation needed to make schools safe."

Adapted from the original German by Andrew Bulkeley