Ventilation and thermal conditions in secondary schools in the Netherlands: Effects of COVID-19 pandemic control and prevention measures

Er Ding, D. Zhang, A.B. Hamida, C. Garcia Sanchez, Lotte Jonker, Annemarijn R. de Boer, Patricia C.J.L. Bruijning, Kimberly J. Linde, Inge M. Wouters, P.M. Bluyssen

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of ventilation was widely stressed and new protocols of ventilation were implemented in school buildings worldwide. In the Netherlands, schools were recommended to keep the windows and doors open, and after a national lockdown more stringent measures such as reduction of occupancy were introduced. In this study, the actual effects of such measures on ventilation and thermal conditions were investigated in 31 classrooms of 11 Dutch secondary schools, by monitoring the indoor and outdoorCO2 concentration and air temperature, both before and after the lockdown. Ventilation rates were calculated using the steady-state method. Pre-lockdown, with an average occupancy of 17 students, in 42% of the classrooms the CO2 concentration exceeded the upper limit of the Dutch national guidelines (800 ppm above outdoors),while 13% had a ventilation rate per person (VRp) lower than the minimum requirement (6 l/s/p). Post lockdown, the indoor CO2 concentration decreased significantly while for ventilation rates significant increase was only found in VRp, mainly caused by the decrease in occupancy (average 10 students). The total ventilation rate per classrooms, mainly induced by opening windows and doors, did not change significantly. Meanwhile, according to the Dutch national guidelines, thermal conditions in the classrooms were not satisfying, both pre and post-lockdown. While opening windows and doors cannot achieve the required indoor environmental quality at all times, reducing occupancy might not be feasible for immediate implementation. Hence, more controllable and flexible ways for improving indoor air quality and thermal comfort in classrooms are needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109922
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Classrooms
  • Indoor air quality
  • Ventilation
  • Children
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Thermal comfort


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