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New study shows how air vents in classrooms can impact the spread of coronavirus

Released by the University of Minnesota, the study says proper ventilation and seating in classrooms, and even the exact location where a teacher stands, can help keep the virus from spreading.

Posted: Sep 1, 2020 8:37 PM
Updated: Sep 1, 2020 9:36 PM

Many students across North Alabama already are, or soon will be, attending classes in-person, and a new study says it knows how to keep them safe from coronavirus.

Released by the University of Minnesota, the study says proper ventilation and seating in classrooms, and even the exact location where a teacher stands, can help keep the virus from spreading.

A diagram from the study shows an asymptomatic teacher without a mask. When the teacher is near ventilation, particles spread to only the front of the classroom.

When the teacher is not near an air vent, the whole room becomes a hot spot.

"How many kids are going to be in the classroom and how do you teach these kids to social distance and how they can be spaced?" said parent, Janelle Arbuckle.

Janelle Arbuckle says she is still deciding whether or not to send her children back to traditional school in the Madison City Schools district.

"If you don't make any changes, then we aren't going to see any improvement. We will just be back where we were in march," said Arbuckle.

She says before she makes a decision, she wants to see how classrooms will be structured.

"I think there are a lot of arrangements that could be made. There are a lot of changes that could be made in the entire design of a classroom. It doesn't have to be set up the way it's always been," said Arbuckle.

A study done by the University of Minnesota showed virus particles don't spread as widely when the teacher is directly under an air vent, but when the teacher is on the opposite side of the air vent, particles fill the room.

Researchers say this information this could help arrange classrooms in a safer way.

"It's really hard to judge how those things are going to affect until we've tried it," said Arbuckle.

The study also shows that good ventilation will filter some of the virus in the air, but not all of it.

After running a 50-minute simulation in a classroom, researchers found 10% of particles were filtered from the air. The majority ended up on the walls.

"It's scary for the teachers and the kids to think that they are going to be in that situation," said Arbuckle.

Madison City Schools says the district will be changing air filters in classrooms and school buses every two months.

Arbuckle thinks schools should arrange classrooms based on the study before students go back.

"I think the districts should be giving everything a shot. I think it's better to err on the side of caution," said Arbuckle.

WAAY 31 did reach out to Huntsville City and Madison County Schools to find out how classrooms will be rearranged and we're waiting to here back.

To see the full study from the University of Minnesota, click here.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136055

Reported Deaths: 2364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19752350
Mobile13449292
Montgomery8852184
Tuscaloosa8654118
Madison792778
Shelby601349
Lee592760
Baldwin552650
Marshall396143
Calhoun353444
Etowah352145
Morgan331428
Houston292021
Elmore267348
DeKalb243221
St. Clair233036
Walker231984
Talladega217129
Limestone211920
Cullman190720
Dallas179126
Franklin178129
Autauga177325
Russell17633
Lauderdale172333
Colbert166626
Blount161715
Escambia161124
Chilton158830
Jackson158111
Covington140327
Dale139244
Coffee13596
Pike120510
Chambers116842
Tallapoosa116485
Clarke110016
Marion96829
Butler91339
Barbour8857
Winston74512
Marengo72420
Pickens66614
Bibb65610
Lowndes65427
Randolph65413
Hale64428
Geneva6344
Lawrence62123
Cherokee61213
Bullock60614
Monroe5908
Clay5878
Washington55913
Perry5416
Crenshaw54032
Conecuh53611
Wilcox53211
Henry5075
Macon48318
Fayette4628
Sumter43819
Cleburne3825
Lamar3702
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 192995

Reported Deaths: 2377
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30953459
Davidson26630306
Hamilton951995
Knox949779
Rutherford936189
Williamson531036
Sumner486598
Wilson351945
Putnam334940
Montgomery311144
Unassigned30425
Out of TN298627
Bradley296217
Madison292164
Sevier263815
Blount253524
Maury240924
Washington232836
Robertson222535
Sullivan219733
Hamblen193926
Tipton183219
Gibson170423
Trousdale16667
Hardeman158226
Wayne14995
Dyer138714
Bedford136417
Dickson127415
Coffee125413
Cumberland121718
Weakley120519
Fayette120419
Anderson120013
Obion119110
Henderson118924
Loudon11846
Carter117728
Greene116144
McMinn114625
Jefferson113014
Warren10757
Lawrence106713
Macon106721
Monroe105218
Hardin104716
Lauderdale99416
Haywood99221
Franklin9899
Lake9252
Roane9055
Carroll89920
McNairy89618
Bledsoe8624
White8479
Rhea84412
Hawkins82218
Cheatham81510
Marshall7785
Overton7586
Cocke7549
Smith73111
Johnson7262
Chester64310
Giles63117
Henry6289
Lincoln6241
Hickman5938
DeKalb57014
Crockett54219
Marion5338
Decatur5307
Fentress5263
Campbell4544
Claiborne4425
Polk39910
Grainger3863
Union3642
Benton3379
Jackson3315
Morgan3203
Grundy3095
Cannon2920
Unicoi2891
Humphreys2583
Sequatchie2381
Clay2335
Meigs2283
Houston2243
Scott2172
Stewart2142
Lewis2041
Moore1791
Van Buren1660
Perry1530
Pickett1232
Hancock1083

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