A school in Dublin said it was forced to close on Friday due to freezing temperatures as a result of keeping windows open for “compulsory ventilation”.
Separately, teachers from dozens of other schools complained of “freezing” temperatures of less than 10 degrees as they struggled to meet COVID-19 ventilation standards.
Under health and safety laws, workplaces are required to have a minimum temperature of 16 degrees.
St Kevin’s College, an all-boys secondary school in Finglas, Dublin 11, informed parents on Friday that the school was closing at 1.05 a.m. – about two hours ahead of schedule – “due to compulsory ventilation inside the school and Due to “low temperature outside”
It is understood that 10 teachers were missing in the school due to Covid reasons and no caretaker was available.
Under public health guidance, schools need to consider whether ventilation can be improved “without causing discomfort” in classrooms.
They are also advised to ensure that, wherever possible, doors and windows are open to enhance natural ventilation, “weather permitting”.
Meanwhile, several schools on Friday shared pictures of temperature readings in their classrooms on social media.
A school teacher said that the temperature in his school at the beginning of the day was 8 degrees and it had risen to 10 degrees by the time the children left at 2.30 pm.
Another teacher, showing a temperature of 11.2 degrees, said that the staff and students were wrapped in coats to protect them from the cold and wind.
At another school, a teacher showed a reading of 9.9 degrees and said: “That’s what we had to do today. Baltic.”
Another addition: “15 degrees to the front of the room, 8 degrees if you’re unlucky to sit near the window despite the radiator under the window. There were three thermometers from the Science Lab to verify.”
At Carlo Primary School, a teacher posted a reading of 13.4 degrees, and said: “Can we continue like this? Surely we should start sending kids home? It’s not safe!”
The Education Department said the broad approach should be for schools to have windows as fully open as possible when classes are not in use – such as during break-time or lunch-time and also at the end of each school day – and be partially open when classrooms are in use.
“It is worth noting that the windows do not need to be opened as wide in wind/cold weather to achieve the same level of airflow in the classroom. This will help manage the level of comfort in classrooms in cold weather ,” said the department spokesperson.
“Any local chilling effect in cold weather can be offset by partially opening windows near and above radiators.”
Last month the National Public Health Emergency Team warned against “over-ventilated” classrooms to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by leaving windows “open at all times”.
carbon dioxide level
However, many teachers say that windows should be left open to ensure carbon dioxide levels are within recommended limits.
A spokesperson of the department said that a dedicated team has been set up in the department to assist the schools which may have ventilation concerns.
Officials are also available to contact schools where necessary, following up on the steps schools should take to implement good ventilation practices.
Where it is not possible for a school to access the expertise of an engineer or architect, a technical assessment may be facilitated through the department to assist the school.
“Schools that identify insufficient ventilation in a room can use their short-work grant or apply for emergency actions, support to address ventilation enhancements on a permanent basis.”