LONDON — With winter on its way and coronavirus guidelines advising teachers to keep classroom windows open, pupils across northern Europe are preparing for the chill by packing blankets in their school bags and layering up with warm clothing.
There is increasingly a consensus among experts that good ventilation is one of the best ways of preventing the virus from spreading. Anthony Costello, a former director at The World Health Organization said last month that children “can survive a bit of cold, and they’re going to have to, because ventilation is so important.”
With temperatures in Germany frequently dipping down to freezing, pupils in the city of Bochum are bracing for a chilly learning environment as officials advise teachers to open the windows for fresh air every 20 minutes. Children have been told to bring blankets and wrap up.
Critics have called the advice a threat to the health of pupils, with Finn Wandhoff, chairman of the Student Union of Germany, accusing the government of failing the education system and not opting for online learning — an option that has been widely panned elsewhere.
In Scotland, Edinburgh’s chief education officer Andy Gray penned a letter to parents urging them to ensure their children were wearing extra layers of clothing when they return to school following a midterm break on Oct. 26, local media reported.
In guidance issued in August, the Scottish Government said: “The opening of doors and windows, where is safe to do so, should be encouraged to increase natural ventilation and also to reduce contact with door handles.”
British health expert Susan Michie pointed out that many schools have windows that do not open, so need government funding to boost ventilation.
“I think also pupils will have to get used to — and staff — coming in wearing more clothes,” she said.