CO2 monitor finds issues with school ventilation system

A virologist sending her children to school and daycare with a CO2 monitor is looking to see how ventilation is playing a role in her children’s health.

University of Manitoba Associate Researcher Julie Lajoie is a virologist and immunologist. Closely watching the pandemic, she became concerned about how the removal of COVID regulations such as wearing masks and distancing would affect her children in daycare and school.

Taking matters into her own hands, Lajoie has been using a using a CO2 monitor to track air ventilation in her children’s daycare and classroom.

“A cold, the flu will transmit if there is not good air circulation, and one of the ways to know if that is happening is to measure the CO2 level,” Lajoie said. “Interestingly enough, we found that two of the rooms had not been hooked up to the system.”

They found the two rooms that were not connected had people often complaining of headaches and had running noses. She said once it was hooked up – people began to feel better.

Lajoie said the monitor is “pretty easy to figure out.”

In those cases where emissions are too high, she said to talk to the school about opening windows, adding air purifiers, and checking the ventilation.

The province said there are more than 300 ventilation projects such as CO2 monitors in schools that began as part if its response to the pandemic.

The River East Transcona and Pembina Trails School Divisions no longer track COVID data, saying it is because of the province’s public health guidelines. The province says it the school dashboard was discontinued last spring, and is no longer reporting on school outbreaks.

Louis Riel School Division is continuing to track and display COVID-related absences, saying it has consulted with Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning.

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