Information for Teachers

Improving Working Conditions, Improving Health 

For the last three years, the health and welfare of teachers, students, and staff hasn’t been a Nova Scotia Government priority. Now that scientists agree that many illnesses, including COVID-19, are spread through the air, we know how to protect ourselves and others! Here are some ways to reduce disease transmission: 

1. Improve Indoor Air Quality 

Studies suggest that good indoor air quality can improve student learning. Even during periods free of excessive illness, improved ventilation and filtration benefits education. 

A Corsi-Rosenthal (CR) box is an easy-to-build DIY air purifier constructed using a box fan and everyday furnace filters. (Imagecredit: Amanda Hu)

Ventilation and Filtration – As indoor air quality expert Dr. Richard Corsi points out, to slow the spread of airborne viruses we need to reduce the inhalation dose of virus-laden aerosol particles. Opening windows and increasing air changes per hour (ventilation), as well as improving filtration (HVAC/HEPA/Corsi-Rosenthal boxes) are all crucial in improving indoor air quality. Experts agree that indoor spaces should achieve at least six air changes per hour (ACH). 

How We Can Help

PoPNS is lobbying the NS Government to add and improve mechanical ventilation in schools. We would also like to assist in building Corsi-Rosenthal boxes for classrooms, a proven, highly effective and low-cost air filtration method – please email us if this is of interest. In collaboration with PoPNB, we created a CR box construction video available on YouTube. 

The Aranet4 is one of many portable CO2 monitors on the market today.

CO2 Monitoring – How well is classroom ventilation performing? Compact, portable CO2 monitors provide real-time data that allow us to assess our risk and determine when to bring in fresh air. People in enclosed spaces breathe out CO2. If the room isn’t well ventilated, CO2 levels build up and the chance of re-breathing someone else’s exhaled air (and their COVID infection) increases. Less than 800 ppm CO2 is ideal and more than 1000 ppm is unsafe. 

How We Can Help

Collecting these numbers in Nova Scotia schools can help us advocate for improved occupational health and safety. We would be happy to help fundraise to purchase monitors for teachers in the province (contact us). CO2 monitors can be purchased through various online suppliers including Donate A Mask. PoPNS is also lobbying libraries to set up CO2 monitor lending programs. (Update: Halifax Public Libraries now has CO2 monitors available to borrow!)

2. Reduce Transmission at the Source 

Try different styles of N95 respirator to find one that fits your face and is comfortable.

Better Masks for Better Health – Currently, both provincial and federal governments recommend masking in public indoor settings. While two-way masking has been demonstrated to be most effective to slow transmission, one-way masking can protect the wearer if the mask is an N95 (or equivalent) respirator and there’s a good seal (fit) around the nose and mouth. 

How We Can Help

PoPNS can supply free N95 respirators to teachers interested in upgrading their masks – contact us here. Alternatively, Donate-A-Mask can be contacted directly to receive a free sample pack. 

Avoiding re/infection is the best way to protect your health. Evidence suggests that each COVID infection substantially deteriorates our health. Protecting the vulnerable protects all of us, and helps ensure that everyone can access and participate in learning. Together we can create a safe and inclusive environment for teachers, students, and staff. 

Protect Our Province Nova Scotia (PoPNS) is a grassroots, volunteer community care initiative focused on reducing COVID transmission through evidence-based mitigation methods.