SPS: Keeping Schools Safe & Open
How Smart Technology Can Help Stop Illnesses Spreading In Schools
Even before the pandemic, there was a high chance that your pupils and staff would get sick during term-time. Schools have always had a reputation for being the ideal breeding ground for illness caused by viruses and bacteria. This could have way more to do with your school’s environment than pupils not washing their hands properly.
Let’s explore some of the reasons behind the infection rates being so high in schools and how using Smart Plant Systems can help you to reduce this.
Humidity and The Spread of Viruses
Humidity is the water vapour within air. The higher the humidity, the more difficult it is for the human body to regulate temperatures. In the winter months, we often turn the heating on. This helps to dry out the air, reducing humidity. Unfortunately, without humidity, airborne bacteria have the chance to increase. A WHO study found that a 1% dip in humidity can actually increase the spread of COVID-19 by up to 8%.
To make sure that you have the right humidity levels in your building, it’s essential to monitor them using the most sophisticated software. Most sensors will measure humidity in a R/H (Relative Humidity) percentage. SPS monitors a range of data points quickly and accurately to give you the time to develop an understanding of your environment so that you can reduce the risk of spreading Coronavirus and other influenza infections. Not only does SPS monitor RH but also takes into consideration the dew point, g/kg of air moisture and much more.
There are many ways you can ensure that humidity remains high enough throughout your building, including using the ventilation systems, humidifiers, etc. Knowing where and when to clean go along way to combating the threat of COVID-19 and improving the health of your students and staff.
Temperature and Air Quality
In our article “Why Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Make Us Ill?” we discussed the importance of understanding air quality and the effects this has on us. When you have poor air quality and high temperatures, several factors can be affected. People become less able to concentrate, viruses can enter the bloodstream through your lungs, and people will need time off to recover from sickness.
The recommended temperature for optimal comfort and productivity is between 21°C and 24°C. Temperatures within this range are also the best temperatures for limiting the spread of viruses reducing the half-life of even COVID-19 by 50%. Monitoring the temperature in classrooms and public areas around your school is vital for providing a safe environment for learning. There is a high probability that you already monitor the temperature within your school, either:
● Through a controller placed near or under a Fan Coil Unit (FCU), or air conditioner, or
● Through a thermostat that monitors the air passing by it.
Both of these situations means that the rest of the room and space is going unmonitored. To provide you with accurate temperature readings throughout your building, SPS sensors are long-range, wireless and encrypted. You can also change the monitoring positions as often as you like to give you the control you need for optimising the temperature in your school.
Footfall and Cleaning
There are some areas of your school that will have high-density foot traffic. This is common in all schools and monitoring the areas that have an increased number of users is integral to making sure the environment is clean and safe. Likewise, there are rooms with equipment that gets used regularly by students and staff members. These busy areas are usually heated by the machinery, i.e. computers, printers, coffee machines, kitchen equipment, etc. And as we know, the heat in rooms reduces the humidity, making it the ideal environment for airborne bacteria to grow.
Monitoring these areas will allow your school to quickly enforce guidelines for limiting the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, making it easier for the school to comply with health and safety practices that have been developed to keep children and the wider school community safe.
All schools have some kind of plant room; this is the room that houses all of the critical machinery and equipment that keep the school warm, with hot water, and can be a hazardous space to work. Using SPS monitoring equipment in these areas of the school can help detect any possible failures, even pre-empting breakdowns.
When a breakdown occurs, it affects more than just the heating; it can cause issues with motivation, concentration, and even mean expensive repairs. By understanding and recognising the signs before the equipment breaks down, you’ll be able to fix the issue before there is any damage. This saves both time, money and, most importantly, you’ll be able to keep the school open.
Using SPS sensors and monitoring equipment will also inform you of any possible dangerous leaks, such as gas, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and any other chemical that is hazardous to health. You’ll also improve your school’s carbon footprint by reducing carbon emissions. This saves any wastage, as well as the school’s financial resources. SPS is an investment that saves an average of 8X more than not using it. On average, schools see a full ROI within 6-12 weeks.