Ventilation in Schools and Academies

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Why is ventilation so important?

  • Good ventilation reduces the amount of Coronavirus in the air and therefore reduces the risks from airborne transmission.  Airborne transmission happens when people breathe in small particles (aerosols) in the air after someone with the virus has occupied an enclosed area.
  • In poorly ventilated rooms, the more people in the room and the longer they are in it, the greater the risk of transmission.
  • Activities such as singing, shouting and physical exercise generate higher levels of aerosols thereby increasing the risk, so it is important to think about this when looking at whether there is adequate ventilation.

What you need to know about ventilation

  • Ventilation can be provided by opening windows. Fire doors should not be propped open though.
  • It is very important not to completely close windows and doors when the area is occupied because this can cause very low levels of ventilation. 
  • Rooms should be frequently aired to improve ventilation. This should be done by opening all doors and windows wide to maximise the ventilation in the room. This will be easier to do when the room is unoccupied or between uses.
  • Rooms should be ventilated ahead of the school/college day and allow it to continue after classes have finished as cleaners and other maintenance staff will be working in those rooms.
  • Classrooms and other areas should be properly ventilated between classes and uses, including at breaks and at lunchtime. This is one of the most important measures to ensure effective ventilation and would involve opening windows fully for a short period of time.
  • If achieving good ventilation makes rooms and spaces cooler (minimum working temperature is 16C-18C) the dress code should be relaxed to accommodate appropriate clothing to be worn.
  • Ventilation can be obstructed by curtains and blinds etc so this needs to be checked and monitored.

All employers should urgently undertake a risk assessment of all rooms, and these should include the levels of ventilation to identify poorly ventilated rooms. This is especially important given the removal of most other mitigations from 19 July. Risk assessments should detail how good ventilation is going to be achieved and maintained. Existing risk assessments must also be reviewed prior to changes in other mitigations. GMB advise that members should avoid working in rooms that are poorly ventilated.

Further advice is available from your local Branch or