Quebec classroom CO2 data should be made public: FAE

The Fédération autonome de l'enseignement (FAE) is demanding that all detailed data collected by carbon dioxide (CO2) readers installed in Quebec classrooms be made public, retroactive to when they were first turned on.

Last week, the Quebec government announced that it had delivered 68 per cent of the 90,000 carbon dioxide readers it promised to install in classrooms across the province by the end of December 2021.

Officials explain that CO2 is one way to examine air quality and when a reader indicates high concentrations, the air may contain harmful contaminants, such as traces of coronavirus.

The federation, which includes nine unions representing more than 50,000 teachers, says that since the return to school, many teachers have expressed serious concerns about CO2 levels that exceed government standards.

Sylvain Mallette, president of the FAE, points out that experts have long criticized the government's air quality measurement protocol.

If authorities are convinced that the air quality is good and that there is little risk of viral transmission, they must be transparent and reassure parents and staff by making all the data public and allowing independent researchers to have access to the information, he argued.

The FAE president states that a few weeks ago, before the holiday break, schools were major conduits for COVID-19.

The federation is calling for the installation of air exchangers in all classrooms where air quality problems persist.

In addition, it is asking for other measures, such as access to N95 masks for teachers who want them and tracking and tracing of infection rates in schools, to be considered.

The CO2 readers are set to be installed in 3,600 buildings across the Quebec school network.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Jan. 20, 2022. 

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