Going old school: lack of ventilation could force some classrooms to leave windows open during pandemic

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For some Quebec schools, ensuring proper air circulation in classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic means opening windows -- and it looks like that might not change come winter.

“We’re going to open the windows when the students are not in class when it gets too cold, but we do want to ventilate throughout the day when the students are out," said Evelyne Alfonsi, the interim director-general of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB).

She acknowledged that some facilities are facing challenges when it comes to ensuring proper air movement that could prevent the virus from spreading. 

“Our buildings are old and most of them don’t have mechanical ventilation systems," she said. “Every school has its own code but certainly we’re going to adapt to the situation as it arises."

Alfonsi said the EMSB is hoping to eventually receive ministry funds to upgrade its buildings, "but right now we don't have any details to move forward with any proposals."

Come winter, caretakers at some EMSB schools will continue to air out classrooms manually. 

The director of communications at the Centre de services scolaire de la Pointe-de-l'Ile (CSPI), another Montreal school service centre, said opening windows is advised regardless of what additional systems are in place to ensure proper air flow.

"A follow-up will be done shortly to specify the measures to be maintained or adapted with the onset of winter conditions," said Valerie Biron in an emailed statement to CTV News.

The CSPI already has a plan in place for the reparation of ventilation systems, and it says work has already begun. 

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