Open degree is valuable

Pupils and teachers feel the onset of winter - lessons with the windows open and a room temperature of 2.4 degrees

BERLIN. Millions of students and teachers felt the onset of winter this week like never before. Ventilation is often the only corona protection in the classroom. The result: You have to learn even in freezing cold. A primary school principal measured: the temperature in the classroom fell to as much as 2.4 degrees Celsius. Is that still reasonable? Educators sound the alarm.

"Correct ventilation is an important and effective measure in the overall package of hygiene measures to reduce the potential viral load in the learning environment and curb the spread of the corona virus," says the KMK President and Rhineland-Palatinate Education Minister Stefanie Hubig (SPD) . “Parents may worry that the rooms will be too cold. With proper ventilation, the experts say, the room temperature only cools down by two to three degrees Celsius. ”The“ experts ”to whom Hubig refers - she reaffirmed this week: Ventilation in schools is even when it is frosty Temperatures are not a problem - are engineers from the Federal Environment Agency.

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The non-school experts have developed a “ventilation concept” for the schools on behalf of the KMK. In the cold season of the year, the classroom should be ventilated every 20 minutes with the windows wide open for 3 to 5 minutes - so-called burst ventilation. In addition, there should be ventilation during the entire breaks. Many students and teachers do not have any other protection against infections from the coronavirus: The distance rule in the classroom was rejected by the ministers of education; In most federal states, the mask requirement in class only applies to older students, if at all.

"The alarm of the CO2 measuring device goes off again in less than ten minutes after the last ventilation"

"The ventilation has worked well so far due to the mild autumn," says Dr. Alexander Fladerer, chairman of the GEW district of Cologne and chemistry and physics teacher at a grammar school, opposite But: “Since there was night frost for the first time in Cologne from Sunday to Monday, it was very cold in the classroom on Monday - the thermometer showed twelve degrees. A year ago the school would have been closed at such a temperature because these are not acceptable learning and working conditions. Today the students sit there all day with jackets, sometimes gloves and scarves. In classes with 30 pupils, the alarm of the CO2 measuring device goes off again in less than ten minutes after the last airing, so that airing has to be done almost all the time. I don't know how that will be when it gets even colder. And there are also no ideas from the ministry or the school authorities. "

Although the problem of infection with the coronavirus through aerosols has been known since May at the latest, the ministers of culture only dealt with the issue of ventilation at the beginning of the calendar autumn, with an expert hearing on September 24th. Findings according to which mobile air filters can largely remove the dangerous suspended particles in classrooms were initially ignored and then only hesitantly adopted by state governments. After all, around half of the federal states have now launched funding programs for such devices - too late (and too tight), however, to be able to equip schools in the area with them.

Headmaster: "I personally will reject responsibility for the health of the children in this case"

Millions of students and teachers are now feeling the consequences. The head of a primary school in Vörden, Westphalia, now, according to the “Westfalen-Blatt”, made clear in the council of his city with a ventilation protocol how impractical the KMK's “ventilation concept” is at the moment. Accordingly, the temperatures were measured on November 25th and 30th from 8:15 am to 11:45 am in room EG05 (outside facing south, inside the auditorium). “The thermometer was on a table in the classroom exactly in the middle between the window front and the opposite inner wall. For the tests, the automatic heating lock was also lifted when the window was open - it was heated permanently to 23 degrees, ”the headmaster reported.

On the first day of the test with an outside temperature of six degrees in the morning, the maximum value after ventilation at 11.20 a.m. was 14.6 degrees, the lowest value after opening the windows was reached at 10.55 a.m. at 11.7 degrees.

It was even colder on the second day of the test, which began at 8 a.m. with an outside temperature of minus four degrees. Here, at the start of school, the room cooled down from 21.5 to 4.9 degrees within five minutes.

According to the report, it was the warmest after a five-minute ventilation at 11.45 a.m. with 8.3 degrees, the coldest value was reached after the end of the long break: the students started the lesson at 10.25 a.m. with a room temperature of only 2.4 degrees. "During the tests as well as in everyday school life, we strictly adhered to the specifications regarding ventilation intervals and times," explained the school principal and emphasized: "Personally, I will reject responsibility for the health of the children in this case."

Scheeres: "It is perfectly clear to me that this is a great additional burden for students and teachers"

Berlin's Senator for Education Sandra Scheeres (SPD) defended regular ventilation in schools this week - even in cold and below zero degrees, as reported by the "Berliner Zeitung". "What is the alternative? We want to protect the children from the virus, ”said Scheeres. "It is perfectly clear to me that this is a huge additional burden for everyone involved," said the politician. “We have drawn attention to the fact that warmer clothing should be worn. And especially in elementary schools, our teachers act very carefully and also implement children who may be more susceptible. "

From her point of view, teaching remains the first choice despite the ongoing corona pandemic. "There is a clear consensus in the Berlin Senate, but also among all education ministers in the federal states: we want to keep classroom teaching and schools open as long as possible." News4teachers

A teacher documented the temperatures in the classroom - and published them on the News4teachers Facebook page.

She writes: “This is what a double hour looked like yesterday according to the school authorities' ventilation concept. Lessons during and after the ventilation are out of the question because it is simply too cold and everyone has to put on thick clothing. The icy north German wind swept all the leaves off the table. The heating is also running at full speed. What that means for the environment and climate change ... "

And she emphasizes: “According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the room temperature must be 20 degrees when the person is mainly seated. Well Occupational safety does not seem to apply in schools, because all other protective measures according to the Sars-Cov-2 school protection standard of the DGUV do not apply either. " News4teachers has already reported on the lack of occupational safety at school - read here.

Open windows are enough: KMK is sticking to its "ventilation concept" despite criticism - scientists recommend air filters