Education ministry says 90,000 CO2 readers to be installed in classrooms across Quebec

A father kisses his daughter prior to entering the school yard at the Philippe-Labarre Elementary School in Montreal, on Thursday, August 27, 2020. Thousands of Quebec students return to class in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Classrooms throughout Quebec will be equipped with 90,000 carbon dioxide readers by the end of the year even though thousands of students have already returned to school.

The ministry of education stated in a press release Friday that the detectors are expected to be installed by the end of December 2021 in all kindergarten, elementary, high school, vocational and adult education classrooms.

CO2 readers are viewed to be a good indicator of indoor air quality. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, poor indoor air quality means virus droplets are more likely to be transmissible from person to person.

Back in July, the ministry issued a call for tenders to supply classrooms across the province with the readers with the goal of installing all of them by the end of June 2022.

The announcement on Friday means the readers, which will also be able to monitor temperature and relative humidity, will be installed six months earlier than expected, but still too late for the start of the 2021 school season.

The press release said the call for tenders was a “thorough and rigorous” process and the installation will be lead by Ali Bahloul, “a specialist in industrial ventilation and indoor air quality, and an associate professor” and researcher in the prevention of chemical, biological, mechanical and physical risks at the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail.

Already, less than two weeks into the back-to-school season, more than 600 Quebec schools have reported cases of COVID-19, which is well over twice as many as this time last year.

Total cases in the province among kids under 10 are also soaring way above the levels from last September and the numbers are being attributed to the more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus. 

While the numbers of cases in schools has risen significantly compared to last year, the sharp increase in pediatric cases hasn’t led to horror stories of severely sick kids.

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