Declare your classroom's CO2 levels: A call for accuracy by Covid Ecoles Quebec

Teachers and staff in schools across Quebec are being encouraged to share their classrooms' CO2 readings on website Covid Écoles Québec, which was originally created to track the number of positive COVID-19 cases in schools.

Founder Olivier Drouin says he started the CO2 detector page for the same reason he began asking people to declare positive COVID-19 cases in their schools: data transparency.

"All data known to date that is used to determine action plans by schools and school boards are underestimating the number of classes with air quality issues, which is much bigger than the 10 per cent quoted by [Quebec Education] Minister [Jean-François] Roberge," he said. "In addition, the government did not commit to making the data available."

Last September, Quebec's education ministry said it would install 90,000 CO2 readers in elementary, high school, vocational and adult education classrooms across the province.

This came after the ministry issued a call for tenders over the summer, with the goal of being able to monitor indoor air quality through temperature and humidity.

"The government asked the service centers to make a daily average of the measurements taken by the readers," information of Covid Écoles Québec explains. "The measurement is done every five minutes during the day and every hour in the evening and at night."

However, Drouin states that according to these types of calculations, average CO2 levels will decrease because students aren't present in classrooms at night.

"It is therefore important to know the true measurements while the children are in class," he said.

Last week, the Quebec government confirmed that 68 per cent of its 90,000 CO2 readers were already installed in classrooms.

The promise had been to put a reader in each classroom of every school by the end of December 2021.

Covid Écoles Québec also created a page for people to declare a positive COVID-19 rapid test -- something the Quebec government has yet to build, causing inaccurate tallies of cases in the province every day.

"The government encourages citizens not to obtain a confirmatory PCR test following a positive rapid test result," the website notes. "This greatly underestimates the number of daily cases."

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