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Back to school 2021, the uneven implementation of CO2 sensors

Faced with the strong contagiousness of the Delta variant, ventilating rooms to limit the circulation of the virus will become a strategic issue. Particularly at the start of the school year, to prevent the formation of clusters or even the closure of primary schools, where the majority of children will not be vaccinated.

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According to the High Council of Public Health, air renewal by the supply of outside air is necessary 4 to 6 times per hour to reduce the transmission of Covid. To avoid contagion in schools, the Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, recommended in April on RTL to install “CO sensors2 and air purifiers wherever relevant ”. Three months later, it is difficult to know precisely where the equipment of the establishments is, since it depends on the local communities.

Efficient sensors …

In May, the High Council of Public Health had in any case indicated that“In the event of functional and sufficient ventilation and ventilation possible in a room, the use of mobile air purification units is not necessary”. Most municipalities wishing to equip themselves have therefore favored the installation of CO sensors.2.

These make it possible to indicate the exact moment when it is necessary to ventilate. On a wall mounted box, a red light is displayed if room ventilation is required, a green light when the situation is acceptable. This device is more effective than the mere implementation of an aeration protocol. “The important thing is not only to ventilate regularly but to ventilate when necessary, the size of the room and the number of people present greatly influencing the moment when it is necessary to renew the air”, says Rodrigo Arenas, co-president of the FCPE (Federation of parents ‘councils), the main association of parents’ representatives.

But difficult to take charge of by the municipalities

While these devices can help stem the virus from circulating in classrooms, their installation is expensive. The sensors cost between 80 and 200 € each and must be financed by the municipality, in charge of the equipment and infrastructure for elementary schools. Some have already been able to allocate large sums for the purchase and installation of these devices. This is the case of the town hall of Paris which indicated to the Parisian have already disbursed more than € 200,000. Other cities are struggling to achieve this: “Less revenue and more charges for the municipalities, it is starting to become very difficult”, deplores Jean-Michel Morer, mayor of Trilport (Seine-et-Marne) and education referent of the association of small towns in France (APVF).

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Faced with the risk of a gap in the protection of children and educational personnel from one territory to another, some want state aid to be created for the purchase of equipment. “We are in a period of crisis, it is a question of taking emergency budgetary measures to help the municipalities which cannot cope”, pleads Guislaine David, general secretary of SNUipp-FSU (Unitary national union of teachers, school teachers and PEGC), the main union of school teachers.

On the side of the association of small towns in France, we have chosen to promote the use of mobile sensors, which the teacher can move from room to room. Jean-Michel Morer sees it as a way to protect the health of students and their teachers without equipping all the rooms with wall devices.


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