As winter approaches, many schools are questioning the effectiveness of HEPA filters in combating COVID19 particles in the air as temperatures drop.

“We’ve been very clear that we want our schools open, and we want them to be safe,” said Pairic Clerkin, the chief executive of the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN).

Teachers are aware that the goal is to do what is necessary to keep their students safe. And since the structures of many school buildings are old, it is necessary to ensure that other measures are taken to ensure good ventilation in the classrooms.


How can HEPA filters help?

Air quality experts say that using HEPA filter devices can help with indoor ventilation in small spaces. In addition, John Wenger of University College Cork, who chaired the group, said he recommended that risk assessments of all classrooms be conducted during the spring and summer.

However, not all classrooms require this type of artificial ventilation system, but such devices need to be accessible to all schools, regardless of the level of contagion risk they may have.

This includes urban schools with a large community of inhabitants, with full-capacity classrooms, where children come from possibly multigenerational households.

"Schools that identify inadequate ventilation in a classroom can use their minor work grant or apply for emergency work grant assistance to address ventilation improvements on an ongoing basis."

But of course, HEPA filters won't do all the work; CO2 meters also need to be secured to monitor air quality levels in individual classrooms. On the other hand, the already known biosecurity measures are still very useful to date, such as the use of face masks, social distancing, and the use of face masks.

Although part of the population may not agree with the decision for students to continue in the classroom this new year due to a large number of new infections in recent months, many governments maintain their decision to remain in the classroom, betting on making institutional spaces safer. In fact, some are promoting a new health measure, based on different alert levels, in which if you have 3 or 4, it is necessary to increase the distance in classrooms from 1.2 to 1.5 m.