In a much-needed step forward, the Dutch education minister is making CO2 monitors mandatory in classrooms across the country. While many schools worldwide are adopting CO2 monitoring, a government or organisation making the monitors mandatory is potentially life-changing for students.
The mandatory adoption policy follows recent research showing that carbon dioxide concentrations are often a proxy for the transmission chance of COVID-19. If you aren’t up to date with the news, we recommend referring to this article. However, in short, when multiple people are present (such as in a classroom), a doubling in the CO2 concentration represents roughly double the COVID-19 transmission chance.
Starting next year, CO2 monitors will be required in all schools around the country. The policy will apply both retroactively to older buildings and also to both new buildings and renovated buildings.
While this news is fantastic, it has some side effects that may be even more impactful. While implementing CO2 monitors in classrooms (at least, in this case) is a decision based entirely on COVID-19, reducing CO2 concentrations in classrooms will come with other important benefits.
At 1400ppm - a level commonly found in classrooms, especially during winter - cognitive performance has been found to decrease by around 50%. On top of this, research shows that exam grades are lower with higher CO2 concentrations. Even further, higher levels of carbon dioxide increase the days of absence per student per year.
All-in-all, a mandatory CO2 monitoring policy is an amazing step forward for education, and we hope to see these policies become more commonplace in the future. Lowering the risk of COVID-19 transmission in classrooms and allowing students to perform at their best during exams will be life-changing for some students.