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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: 136549

Reported Deaths: 2378
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19833350
Mobile13471292
Montgomery8865184
Tuscaloosa8744118
Madison797878
Shelby604349
Lee594560
Baldwin558850
Marshall396743
Calhoun354844
Etowah354045
Morgan332728
Houston293521
Elmore269148
DeKalb243521
St. Clair234036
Walker233084
Talladega217729
Limestone213520
Cullman191120
Dallas179326
Franklin179029
Autauga178525
Russell17653
Lauderdale174033
Colbert167526
Blount161815
Escambia161424
Chilton159330
Jackson158911
Covington140327
Dale139944
Coffee13656
Pike120510
Chambers117242
Tallapoosa116685
Clarke110416
Marion97129
Butler91439
Barbour8867
Winston74512
Marengo72620
Pickens66814
Randolph66013
Bibb65710
Lowndes65727
Hale64928
Geneva6384
Lawrence62823
Cherokee61413
Bullock60714
Clay5928
Monroe5908
Washington56113
Crenshaw54232
Perry5426
Conecuh53711
Wilcox53211
Henry5085
Macon48318
Fayette4678
Sumter43819
Cleburne3895
Lamar3772
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 193732

Reported Deaths: 2389
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31034460
Davidson26685307
Hamilton956495
Knox955080
Rutherford940890
Williamson534136
Sumner488398
Wilson353845
Putnam335541
Montgomery312344
Unassigned30476
Out of TN299727
Bradley296717
Madison294364
Sevier264715
Blount254824
Maury242024
Washington233736
Robertson223135
Sullivan222033
Hamblen194326
Tipton183619
Gibson171323
Trousdale16687
Hardeman158326
Wayne15025
Dyer140314
Bedford137017
Dickson127715
Coffee125513
Cumberland121718
Weakley121219
Fayette120619
Anderson120213
Obion120011
Henderson119124
Loudon11906
Carter117928
Greene116644
McMinn115025
Jefferson113414
Warren10787
Lawrence107713
Macon106821
Monroe105818
Hardin105216
Lauderdale99516
Haywood99221
Franklin98910
Lake9252
McNairy91818
Roane9096
Carroll90520
Bledsoe8624
Rhea85013
White8499
Hawkins82318
Cheatham81910
Marshall7805
Overton7666
Cocke75310
Smith73411
Johnson7292
Chester64610
Giles63717
Henry6289
Lincoln6281
Hickman5998
DeKalb57214
Crockett54419
Marion5388
Decatur5317
Fentress5273
Campbell4564
Claiborne4425
Polk40610
Grainger3863
Union3712
Benton3399
Jackson3325
Morgan3213
Grundy3126
Cannon2950
Unicoi2881
Humphreys2633
Sequatchie2421
Clay2345
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